Commonalities - A New Series from Fordham University Press

Is there any concern more pressing today than thinking what it means to have in common? From debates on biotechnology and shared gene pools, to the relation between the digital commons and public culture, to political and theological genealogies of the common and community, to the fraying European Community, one of the most decisive questions for contemporary life concerns what having and being in common entails.

Why? When did the common become a question and not a declaration? The reasons are many. Certainly, the Fall of the Berlin Wall discredited the account Communism had provided of the common. A number of works written in the wake of Communism’s collapse also helped open the common to philosophical investigation: works from Giorgio Agamben, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Roberto Esposito, among others. One effect of their readings was to have made clearer the profound influence a certain language of sovereignty and the law enjoys over how we understand collective life.

Where does that leave the political thought of the common today? Some continue to tell themselves the heart-warming story in which a return to communal life might still be possible and desired. Others sense the end of community, which often becomes the prelude to a hand-wringing Messianism. And then there are others who glimpse in the present moment an opportunity for thought; who believe that we are on the cusp of new modes of being-in-common. The name we will want to give these possibilities for imagining future common forms is “Commonalities.”

Where the common and community are concepts, “commonalities” captures the dynamism of the relations that make up both; the relation of the common not only to subjects and individuals but to other living entities as well as objects. Where perspectives on the common and community are largely indebted to what has been called “political theology,” the perspective provided by “commonalities” is political in the sense that it concerns itself primarily with emerging forms of being together and having together. Not surprisingly, in “commonalities” communication moves to the center but not the protected and ultimately unsatisfying communication that so dominates interactions today. Rather communication among “commonalities” resembles a contamination of approaches and perspectives that leads to new modes of being. Where before there was always and only the common and its privileged form, the community, now a horizon for thought becomes available that is capable of accounting for immanent (and possibly common) singularities. “Commonalities” names a research project in which the common becomes a mode of investigating and writing the political: a way of creating collectively that discloses the immanent singularities that characterize the contemporary moment. The series, Commonalities, registers such a moment for thinking the political across the common.

Featuring works that take up the question and the promise of the common ecumenically, Commonalities is not limited to any one philosophical tradition. Rather it spotlights the forms that the common assumes in a number of disciplines and traditions: in greater attention to the importance of relationality and interdependence; in biopolitical research; and in ongoing critiques of all forms of the common thought merely as instances of political theology. In a word the series is addressed to those interested in imagining possible worlds held in common.

Titles soon to be appearing:

Kevin Attell, Agamben and Deconstruction

Remo Bodei, The Life of Things

Massimo Cacciari, Europe and Empire 

Roberto Esposito, Categories of the Impolitical

Roberto Esposito, Terms of Politics: Community, Immunity, Biopolitics

Maurizio Ferraris, Documentality Or Why Leave a Trace

Maurizio Ferraris, "Where are You?" Ontology of the Cellular Phone

Jean-Luc Nancy, Identité. Fragments, franchises