Radical Practices of Collective Care (blog)


This is the blog of a collective research process investigating collective practices of care, reproduction and mutual aid as related to social movements. We are gathering examples of radical practices of caring, housing and food production. Our work is based on a rota of research presentations that feeds into this online toolbox. This project was initiated by Manuela Zechner, Julia Wieger and Bue Rübner Hansern in 2012 at VBKÖ Vienna and continues in various contexts and guises, some of which we publish here.

We are interested in a range of practices emerging from historical women’s or workers movements for example, as well as from contemporary movements responding to the current crises. So we collect and discuss ‘case studies’ that can help us think about the potentials and limitations of specific practices of autonomous reproduction… and hopefully also to act on them! We want to map out some initiatives occurring across Europe and beyond, trace their interrelations and the networks they sit within, look into their micropolitics and to try grasp their relations to the state.


In the light of the current social crisis that traverses Europe (and particularly the so-called PIIGS), it seemed urgent to put our heads (and hands, and hearts, …) together to think about possible collective models of reproduction and care. Rapidly rising unemployment, precarisation, poverty and expropriation show that it’s urgent to create new social institutions and mutualist safety nets from below.

Support networks, solidarious economies and common institutions offer useful cues as to how collective practices of care may become possible and sustainable. We’re finding and sharing such new and old examples, and discuss and develop tools for self-organisation.

The ongoing crises of public institutions and representative democracy offer ample opportunities to remake some of the structures determining our daily lives – all too ample, as many might say! But not just that: with policy models that draw on cooperation while enforcing competition and austerity., the relation between state and self-management has apparently become a billion dollar question yet again! We’re trying to think that through in our current situation.

Examples, examples…

Case studies may include: the free breakfast of the Black Panthers; the mutual aid of Occupy Sandy; the pay-as-you-wish restaurant Wiener Deewan; Einküchenhäuser; the Community Health Centre of San Fransisco Solano; peoples kitchens – in crisis Greece as well as in 30s Europe; community supported agriculture at Ochsenherz Farm near Vienna; the mutual aid of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca in Spain; the GAS network in Italy where community-based shopping from local producers is organised; the Icarus project for mutual aid and mental health support; initiatives from within historical womens movements, such as creches or healthcare; self-valorising institutions of the early workers movement; etc.

How this project is run

We want to encourage encounters and conversations between people organising, working and researching in the fields of social reproduction and care. Our financial methodology thus far has been to base our work in arts spaces and use the money we get for this to pay people for presentations (present or future). This is rather precarious business and we are obviously running this project unpaid, but it’s important to us to share money around as long as we have access. Be welcome to propose examples or join presentations and discussions.

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