Introduction

Al Masha – Commoning the private

The Arabic term Al Masha refers to undivided common land among farmers in West Asia before, during, and after the Ottoman Empire. Al Masha was more than collective ownership, it was a socio-political practice, a lifestyle, and a mechanism to access land for landless people. In fact, the central aspect of Al Masha was the periodic redistribution of lots among the villagers. A third category between the public and private, it can only exist if people use it, it comes to existence with collective use, and the moment people stop cultivating it ceases to exist.

Today we may ask: is it possible to reactivate Al Masha expanding its practice beyond its historical meaning? A series of experiments in different locations, from south of Italy and Sweden to Palestine explore the possibility of thinking and practicing commoning from the private. Instead of considering Al Masha as only emerging from the public sphere, we are rethinking Al Masha as a space of communal co-habitation emerging from the private, from the space of the home.

 

Beit Sahour, Palestine (2010)

Jericho, Palestine (2024)

Diso, Italy (2021)

Stockholm, Sweden (2021)

Stavsnäs, Sweden (2023)