Cover for REID: Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place, and Global Justice. Click for larger image

Recovering the Commons

Democracy, Place, and Global Justice

An empowering application of critical social and ecological theory

Providing new practical and conceptual tools for responding to human and environmental crises in Appalachia and beyond, Recovering the Commons radically revises the framework of critical social thought regarding our stewardship of the civic and ecological commons. Herbert Reid and Betsy Taylor ally social theory, field sciences, and local knowledge in search of healthy connections among body, place, and commons that form a basis for solidarity as well as a vital infrastructure for a reliable, durable world. Drawing particularly on the work of philosophers Maurice Merleau-Ponty, John Dewey, and Hannah Arendt, the authors reconfigure social theory by ridding it of the aspects that reduce place and community to sets of interchangeable components. Instead, they reconcile complementary pairs such as mind/body and society/nature in the reclamation of public space.

With its analysis embedded in philosophical and material contexts, this penetrating work culls key concepts from grassroots activism to hold critical social theory accountable to the needs, ideas, and organizational practices of the global justice movement. The resulting critique of neoliberalism hinges on place-based struggles of groups marginalized by globalization and represents a brave rethinking of politics, economy, culture, and professionalism.

"This very welcome and timely effort lays foundations for thinking our way out of the epistemological errors and related politics that have plunged us into the present ecological crisis. Recovering the Commons represents an intellectual model that is desperately needed."--Mary Hufford, author of Waging Democracy in the Kingdom of Coal: OVEC and the Struggle for Social and Environmental Justice in Central Appalachia

Herbert Reid is a professor of political science at the University of Kentucky and the editor of Up the Mainstream: A Critique of Ideology in American Politics and Everyday Life. Betsy Taylor is a cultural anthropologist and senior research scholar at the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Theory at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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