Student Research Partnership in Spanish: Constellation of the Commons’ 

20 September 2023
By Grace Wallace-Jackson '24

I applied for an SRP with Palmar Álvarez-Blanco after I took her course Culture, Capitalism and the Commons and became passionate about the ways that sustainability, human rights, civic engagement, and climate justice converge in history and present-day. I consider our research project to be a continuation, and in-depth exploration, of materials presented to me in that class. I began my research analyzing and organizing a large spreadsheet on current social initiatives in and around Northfield that overlap with the commons; the commons is both a philosophy and practice that promotes a holistic system to achieving equity, democracy, justice and symbiotic relationships for both living-beings and nature. My next step was reading relevant literature about the historical, cultural, geographic and social context of the commons in Spain such as En ruta con el Común, written by Palmar Alvarez-Blanco and La Transformación Histórica del Paisaje Forestal en Asturias, written by Carlos Manuel, Pedro Díaz-Fernández, and Luis Gil. We constructed interviews with individuals who work as farmers, lawyers and politicians in northern Spain, who in one way or another, advocate for the preservation of the commons. We recorded conversations that discussed the reality of self-managed communities, conflict resolution, and the economic/political/social organization of communal land. Afterwards, we transcribed, edited and translated our interviews into Spanish and English to upload to the Constellation of the Commons– which is an audiovisual archive, created by Professor Álvarez-Blanco, of “communities of practice” that are working to transform their communities against the capitalist system and into a position that prioritizes the welfare of beings and the earth. Overall, I have deepened my understanding of the historical and current reality of the commons. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my research with Palmar after I graduate and I am excited to apply what I have learned in Northfield.