How are common resources made into private property?

Together with Martin Fredriksson, I work on the project “Commons and Commodities: Knowledge, Natural Resources and the Construction of Property”. 

This project asks if, and how, the commons are rearticulated and enclosed as property. “Commons” refers to a resource shared by a group of people according to particular social norms.

Focusing on three quite different types of resources, the project analyses how the processes of enclosure are enacted and countered through legal decisions and public resistance. It aims to provide new knowledge about how different kinds of common resources are enclosed and commodified as private property, and how this affects those who used to manage those commons.

My part of the project concerns how natural resources, generally perceived as common land, are appropriated by corporations. It focuses on local cases where mining projects on indigenous land in Scandinavia and Australia have provoked resistance.

…Until the last soldier is buried 

 Photo credit: Johanna Dahlin

 

On the former Volkov and Leningrad fronts east of St Petersburg, a city which under the name of Leningrad was subjected to a more than two year siege, soldiers are still lying covered in dirt but unburied on the battlefields. Voluntary search brigades are working to find and bury the remains of these soldiers. However, burial is not the sole objective, the search activity is also focused on trying to identify the recovered human remains. Attempts are made to find the relatives of the identified soldiers, but the act of identification – to establish the name as the expression is in Russian – is a goal in it self.

A significant source of national pride

My research gives special attention to the Russian search movement; focusing on the activities of one St Petersburg based group, the search process, identification and burial. The memory of the war and the victory is a significant source of national pride in Russia, and Victory Day on May 9th is a public holiday that is celebrated widely. The horrendous death toll, the enormous suffering and the sacrifice all contribute to making the war sacred, then and now. War becomes a part of people’s lives even if they did not experience it themselves, and there is a strong sense of duty to remember. Dissemination efforts are directed at younger generations.

Between tragedy and triumph

Burials and other rituals are focused on bringing closure to events that to some extent still are open. The war was a great catastrophe bringing unimaginable levels of suffering. However, in much of the official rhetoric the suffering in downplayed in favour of patriotic triumph. There is tension between tragedy and triumph, suffering and glory, which to some degree corresponds to public and private memory of the war. There is a complex interplay between these entities, simultaneously enforcing and contrasting one another. 

Medallion makes identification possible

Culture Unbound

Blog: Common and Commodities

Publications

2018

Johanna Dahlin

"Now you have visited the war": the search for fallen soldiers in Russia

In Heritage of death

Chapter in book

2017

Johanna Dahlin

'No one is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten': Duty, Patriotism, and the Russian Search Movement

In Europe-Asia Studies

Article in journal

Johanna Dahlin, Martin Fredriksson

Extracting the Commons

In Cultural Studies

Article in journal

2016

Johanna Dahlin

Voices from the war: An ethnohistorical study of letter dialogues between front soldiers and their families in 1941-1944

In Historisk Tidskrift (S)

Article, book review

2014

Johanna Dahlin

De dog för att vi skulle leva: Rysslands patriotiska fostran och de levandes plikter mot de döda

In Nordisk Østforum

Article in journal