Friday Thread: “There is a third way to re-imagining common property forms…”

Interview with Michel Bauwens (Peer to Peer Foundation) – to mark the launch of Belfast’s ‘Festival of Ideas’

To mark the upcoming Belfast Festival of Ideas, the School of Law is launching a wide-ranging interview with a global pioneer of the emerging commons movement, Michel Bauwens.

Talking to the School of Law’s Dr Peter Doran, Bauwens describes the work of his Peer-to-Peer Foundation and explores the significance of the re-emergence of ‘the commons’ and ‘commoning’ for society, the economy, law and the state.

Bauwens sees global digital networks enabling people to reconnect and form new types of commons that belong neither to the state nor the private sector. Instead they constitute what Bauwens describes as ‘the core’ of a hyper-productive social and ethical economy.

He adds: “My vision is of more and more citizens enabling themselves, reorganising their provisioning systems and social life (e.g. through co-ops, food co-ops, collective purchasing, consumer-assisted agriculture). This is a re-emergence of the commons as a category so that civil society comes into its own as a productive and ethical force. This is a new and emergent reality…enormously liberating for governments who can now break out of the public-private binary and re-imagine the role of the state as an enabling partner, enabling individual and social autonomy and a social and ethical economy.”

Dr Peter Doran (QUB School of Law) to participate in panel on ‘Imagining Belfast as a Cultural Commons’

During August 2015, a Dundee-based artist, Jonathan Baxter, led and coordinated the organisation of the first ever Dundee Commons Festival. Including diverse activities and events – daily talks, bread making, workshops, performances and exhibitions – the festival celebrated Dundee as a ‘commons-in-the-making’. Learning from the Dundee experience, the intention of this conversational seminar is to explore the question: What would Belfast look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, if the city was a cultural commons?

The seminar will be facilitated by Denis Stewart, Chair of Voluntary Arts Ireland, and will include contributions from Peter Doran from QUB School of Law, and Kevin Murphy, Chief Officer of Voluntary Arts Ireland, and, by video-link, Jonathan Baxter in Dundee and Michel Bauwens,founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives, USA.

Drawing on the examples of commons movements, including the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons, Dr Peter Doran will explore the language and cultural meaning of ‘the commons’ as a potential imaginative turn in the life of civil society and our institutions.


VENUE: Reception Hall, Belfast City Hall

DATE: Monday 14th March

TIME: 11am–1.30pm (with light lunch from 1pm)


STUDY THE COMMONS: To learn more about the commons come and study contemporary issues in property law at the QUB School of Law

WEB LINKS: The School of Law at Queens University Belfast:

The Peer-to-Peer Foundation (Michel Bauwens):