Retreat »The Future of the Commons«, June 24 - 28

Bios of participants

  • Andoni Alonso, Madrid, Spain
  • Michel Bauwens, Bangkok, Thailand, is an active writer, researcher and conference speaker on the subject of technology, culture and business innovation. He is the founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of peer production, governance, and property. He has been an analyst for the United States Information Agency, knowledge manager for British Petroleum, eBusiness Strategy Manager for Belgacom, as well as an internet entrepreneur in his home country of Belgium. He has co-produced the 3-hour TV documentary Technocalyps with Frank Theys, and co-edited the two-volume book on anthropology of digital society with Salvino Salvaggio. Michel is currently Primavera Research Fellow at the University of Amsterdam and external expert at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (2008). In February 2009, he joined Dhurakij Pundit University’s International College as Lecturer in Bangkok, Thailand, assisting with the development of the Asian Foresight Institute. Main site at; Bibliography at; Wikipedia
  • Iain Boal, Berkeley, California, USA, is an Irish social historian, half educated in England. He has been resident in Berkeley since 1985. He is associated with Retort, a group of antinomian writers, artisans and artists based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was co-editor of Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information, City Lights Press,1995, and one of the authors of Retort's Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War (2nd edn, Verso, 2006), which Michael Hardt described as a "venomous and poetic book" and Harold Pinter as "a comprehensive analysis of America's relationship with the world. No stone is left unturned. The maggots exposed are grotesque." In 2005/6 he was a Guggenheim Fellow in Science and Technology. He is affiliated with the Geography Department and the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, and the Community Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Areas of Special Interest: The social history of science, technics and medicine; luddism and anti-modernity; science and visual culture; commoning and communalism; language and the technics of communication.
  • David Bollier, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, ( is an American author, activist, blogger and consultant who spends much of his time studying the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. He pursues this work as an editor of and and Fellow at On the Commons, in collaboration with various U.S. and international partners. Bollier is the author of three books on different aspects of the commons: Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Commons Wealth (2002) is a far-ranging survey of market enclosures of public lands, the airwaves, creativity, scientific knowledge, and much else. Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture (2005) documents the vast expansion of copyright and trademark law over the past generation at the expense of the public domain. And Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own (2009) describes the rise of free software, free culture, and the movements behind open business models, open science, open educational resources and new modes of Internet-enabled citizenship. Bollier is Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and co-founder and board member of Public Knowledge, a Washington policy advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the information commons.
  • Nicola Bullard, Bangkok, Thailand
  • George Caffentzis, Portland, Maine, USA, is a member of the Midnight Notes Collective and a coordinator of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. He has taught in many universities in the US and at the University of Calabar (Nigeria). He is presently a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine, USA. He has written many essays on social and political themes. His published books include “Clipped Coins, Abused Words and Civil Government: John Locke's Philosophy of Money”, “Exciting the Industry of Mankind: George Berkeley's Philosophy of Money”; “No Blood for Oil!” (an e-book accessed at His co-edited books include: “Midnight Oil: Work Energy War 1973-1992)”; “Auroras of the Zapatistas: Local and Global Struggles in the Fourth World War”; “Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities.”
  • Massimo De Angelis, London, England, *1960, currently lives with his family in a small village in the Apennines in the province of Modena (Italy) where he is learning the ways of rural commoners while teaching music at the local nursery school and exploring the possibility of forms of association promoting commoning in those areas worst served by public services. As a teenager he participated in the revolutionary ferment of the the 1970s Italian movimento and ever since cannot consider himself whole without some engagement in meaningful emancipatory projects. He is also professor of Political Economy of Development at the University of East London. In 1995 he obtained his PhD in Economics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. He has published two books, Keynesianism, Social Conflict and Political Economy (2000) and The Beginning of History: Global Capital and Value Struggles (2007) as well as numerous articles. He is the editor of the web journal The Commoner ( which he founded in 2000. His current research is centred on the relation between capitalist crises and commons.
  • Andreas Exner, Klagenfurt, Austria, *1973. Academic studies in ecology, research of vegetation ecology, social work. Former militant activist within the ecology movement, former attac-activist, former member of the network for a basic income. Currently crossbench councelor in the chamber of labour for the Green and Independent Unionists in Kärnten ( Editor of "Streifzüge" ( and member of SINET ( Activist at,, Books: together with Lauk & Kulterer "The limits of capitalism. How we fail on growth" (Ueberreuter, 2008, in German); together with Rätz & Zenker: "Basic income. Social security without work" (Deuticke, 2007, in German). Main focus of activities: Resources and capital, SolidarityEconomy; present in Facebook.
  • Silvia Federici, Hempstead, New York, USA, is a long time feminist activist, teacher and writer. She was a co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, the New York Wages For Housework Committee, the Radical Philosophy Association Anti-Death Penalty Project and the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. She has taught at the University of Port Harcourt (Nigeria) and Hofstra University. She has authored many essays on feminist theory and history. Her published books include: "Caliban and the Witch. Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation"; “Enduring Western Civilization: The Construction of the Concept of Western Civilization and its Others” (editor); “Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities" (co-editor).
  • Silke Helfrich, Jena, Germany, has studied romance languages and pedagogy at the Karl-Marx-University in Leipzig. Since mid of the 1990s activities in the field of development politics, from 1996 to 1998 head of Heinrich Böll Foundation Thuringia and from 1999 to 2007 head of the regional office of Heinrich Böll Foundation in Mexiko City focusing on globalisation, gender and human rights. She is running the german-speaking CommonsBlog at
  • Prashant Iyengar, Bangalore, India, is a Technology/IP lawyer, academic and a new media activist based in India. He runs a free database of Indian Supreme Court cases (OpenJudis), and is currently a researcher with the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. He has also previously (2006-07) been an International Policy Fellow with the Open Society Institute.
  • Stefan Meretz, Berlin, Germany, *1962. Ph.D. in material science, diploma in computer science, webmaster at german united services union (ver.di), managing free software projects. Research of political economy of free software and member of the Oekonux (Economy & GNU/Linux) network. Teaching German Critical Psychology. Co-founder of the Keimform blog (, a blog investigating germ forms of a new commons-based society. Running several web projects (, member of Facebook.
  • Pat Roy Mooney, Ottawa, Canada, Executive Director. For more than thirty years, Pat Mooney has worked with civil society organisations (CSOs) on international trade and development issues related to agriculture and biodiversity. Mooney has lived most of his life on the Canadian prairies. The author or co-author of several books on the politics of biotechnology and biodiversity, Pat Mooney received The Right Livelihood Award (the "Alternative Nobel Prize") in the Swedish Parliament in 1985. In 1998 Mooney received the Pearson Peace Prize from Canada's Governor General. He also received the American "Giraffe Award" given to people "who stick their necks out". Pat Mooney has no university training, but is widely regarded as an authority on agricultural biodiversity and new technology issues. Together with Cary Fowler and Hope Shand, Pat Mooney began working on the "seeds" issue in 1977. In 1984, the three co-founded RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International), whose name was changed to ETC group (pronounced "etcetera" group) in 2001. ETC Group is a small international CSO addressing the impact of new technologies on rural communities. ETC has offices in Canada, the United States, and Mexico; and works closely with CSO partners around the world.
  • Franz Nahrada, Vienna, Austria, *1954, academic studies in sociology, philosophy and political science, which lead to intensive studies of university politics and critique of current science in the context of various marxist political approaches. The discontent with both neglectiveness of theory and the need for social alternatives led to a quest how both can be reconciliated. In the meantime, on the professional side, because of the refusal to work towards an academic career, several factors converged: involvement in tourism (management of the family hotel), software development (same reason), work for Apple Computers 1987 - 1992 (HyperCard developer support), knowledge organisation. Experiences with the destructive social impact of tourism in Greece led to ideas of new integrative village development (alliance of nomadic knowledge workers and traditional village population = Global Villages). In seven field trips to California and other states (1988 - 1995) both technology development and the social innovations that make them meaningful were the main subject (for example Arcosanti). Tried to apply this strand in Austria, succeeded with the Global Village conferences (1993 - 2000) and the Cultural Heritage in the Global Village (CULTH) conferences (1998 - 2002). Founded the Global Villages Network to create a worldwide community of village innovators. Worked on redefinition of locations: Electronic Cafés, Monasteries, Libraries. On the political side: working on New Work movement for radically facing permanent unemployment and nonmonetary economies, studied patterns of emerging civil society, worked with Oekonux and co organized the third conference, studied traditional native concil wisdom and timeless cultural patterns with several teachers. Still seeks to build up a research institution (GIVE - Laboratory for Global Villages). Currently working with Andreas Exner and others on Transition Austria and SOLCOM, with Andrius Kulikauskas on a global learning & life maintainance community called Worknets, with others on Open Source Ecology, and is also president of ECOVAST (European Council of Villages and Small Towns) in Austria. Currently working on a book "invisible intelligence" (following a conference organized together with Peter Weibel) to foster theory-culture that connects serious analyses, bold visions and diligent practice. Curently working also on a "pattern language for the postindustrial society" in general and a "pattern language of the solar age" in particular.
  • Richard Pithouse, Port Elisabeth, South Africa, is an activist, academic and journalist from South Africa. He is currently focussing his energies on popular struggles for the right to the cities and is interested in exploring the idea of the urban commons. He teaches political philosophy at Rhodes University.
  • Christian Siefkes, Berlin, Germany, *1975. Ph.D. in computer science from the Freie Universität Berlin; works as a freelance software engineer. Co-founder of the Keimform-Blog (, a blog investigating how far the potential of commons-based peer production extends: Is a society possible in which peer production is the primary mode of production, and how could such a society be organized? Book: "From Exchange to Contributions: Generalizing Peer Production into the Physical World" (Berlin, 2007,, German translation: "Beitragen statt tauschen" (Neu-Ulm, 2008).
  • Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal, Germany, author, university teacher, journal editor. 1966-1975 studies in theology and social sciences in Munich, Tübingen and Berkeley. Since 1993 Senior Fellow at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Head of research on globalization and sustainablility. Honorary Professor at Kassel University and regular lecturer at Schumacher College, England. Member of the Club of Rome. Research areas: Globalization, development, environment, new models of wealth. Recent books in English: ”Planet Dialectics. Explorations in Environment and Development”, London: Zed Books, 1999. „Slow Trade-Sound Farming“ (ed.), Berlin: Misereor/Heinrich Boell Foundation, 2007. „Fair Future. Resource Conflicts, Security, and Global Justice“, (ed with T. Santarius) Zed Books, 2007. Website:
  • Miguel Vieira, São Paulo, Brasil, is a researcher in the field of access to knowledge, currently preparing a master's dissertation on the subject of "Intellectual commons and commodification", at the University of São Paulo (Education Faculty, department of Philosophy of Education). He has graduated in Communications (minor: Publishing) and Philosophy, both also at the University of São Paulo, and has a specialization degree on intellectual property (the course was promoted by UBV, SAPI and OCPI — respectively: Bolivarian University of Venezuela, and the Venezuelan and Cuban intellectual property offices). He has published some texts on the subjects of intellectual property and, more recently, collaborative production and the commons. Other academic interests include philosophy of science and technology, marxism, democratization of communication and the publishing industry. (Although right now focusing exclusively on the graduate studies, pursuing a professional career in the field of publishing.) He is also involved with access to knowledge through political activism. He is part of a brazilian collective called Epidemia, which keeps an eye on the intellectual property-related agenda, and has been active in the planning of the Science & Democracy World Forum (a side event to the WSF 2009) and in the demonstrations against "Projeto Azeredo" (a brazilian proposed law that would endanger privacy and threaten the existence of open wifi).

Suggestions of readings

  • Iain Boal (2007), Feast and Famine: A Conversation about Scarcity, Apocalypse, and Enclosure, Retort Pamphlet Series #4
  • Lawrence Liang, Prashant Iyengar, Jiti Nichani (2009), Commons for the Commoner in Asia. How Does an Asian Commons Mean. Paper available from Prashant Iyengar.
  • Peter Linebaugh, Marcus Rediker (2000), The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic.
  • Peter Linebaugh (2003), The London Hanged. Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century.
  • Peter Linebaugh (2008), Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All.
  • Thomas Paine (2009), Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Agrarian Justice, with an introduction by Peter Linebaugh (proposing to understand Paine through his commoning and anti-enclosure experiences).
  • Christian Siefkes (2007), From Exchange to Contributions: Generalizing Peer Production into the Physical World.
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