Inter-Nation – European Art Research Network conference, 19 Oct 2018

A fence in Mexico City delineating a poor area from a wealthy area

This event looks interesting:


European Art Research Network | 2018 Conference

Key-Note speakers include:

Dawn Weleski, Conflict Kitchen, Pittsburgh
Bernard Stiegler, Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation, Paris
Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation

Other participants include: Louise Adkins, Alistair Alexander / Tactical Tech, Lonnie Van Brummelen, David Capener, Katarzyna Depta-Garapich, Ram Krishna Ranjam, Rafal Morusiewicz, Stephanie Misa, Vukasin Nedeljkovic / Asylum Archive, Fiona Woods, Connell Vaughan & Mick O’Hara, Tommie Soro.

Contributory economies are those exchange networks and peer 2 peer (P2P) communities that seek to challenge the dominant value system inherent to the nation-state. This two-day conference addresses these economies through artistic research.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, alternative economies have been increasingly explored through digital platforms, and artistic and activist practices that transgress traditional links between nation and economy.

Digital networks have the potential to challenge traditional concepts of sovereignty and geo-politics. Central to these networks and platforms is a broad understanding of ‘technology’ beyond technical devices to include praxis-oriented processes and applied knowledges, inherent to artistic forms of research. Due to the aesthetic function of the nation, artistic researchers are critically placed to engage with the multiple registers at play within this conference. The guiding concept of the conference ‘Inter-Nation’ comes from the work of anthropologist Marcel Mauss (‘A Different Approach to Nationhood’, 1920), proposed an original understanding of both concepts that opposes traditional definitions of State and Nationalism. More recently, Michel Bauwens argues for inquiry into the idea of the commons in this context. While, Bernard Stiegler has revisited this definition of the ‘Inter-Nation’ as a broader concept in support of contributory economies emerging in digital culture.

Developed at a crucial time on the island of Ireland, when Brexit is set to redefine relations. The conference engages key thematics emerging out of this situation, such as: digital aesthetics and exchange, network cultures and peer communities, the geo-politics of centre and margin.

The conference will be hosted across three locations within the city centre; Wood Quay Venue for main key-note and PhD researcher presentations; Studio 6 at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios for an evening performance event, and Smithfield Market where a screeing event is hosted at Lighthouse Cinema. 

Theme issue: Sharing Economies? Theories, practices and impacts

Deliveroo cyclists

Interesting theme issue from July in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy & Society” entitled “Sharing Economies? Theories, practices and impacts”.

See the full Table of Contents.

Here’s a snippet from the editorial statement about the issue:

The ten articles that comprise this issue collectively open up significant elements of sharing economies to greater academic reflection and critique. Substantively, they draw on a range of theories, territories and mechanisms to explore sharing economies from across different disciplinary perspectives. Davies, Donald, Gray and Hayes-Knox argue that five key issues emerge: (i) The etymology of sharing and sharing economies; (ii) The differentiated geographies to which sharing economies contribute; (iii) What it means to labour, work and be employed in sharing economies; (iv) The role of the state and others in governing, regulating and shaping the organisation and practice of sharing economies; and (v) the impacts of sharing economies.

CFP> Journal of Peer Production Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

CFP JOPP Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

Editors: Penny Travlou, Nicholas Anastasopoulos, Panayotis Antoniadis

Call for papers

One of the welfare state’s key jurisdictions was to tend to housing and public space in benevolent ways. However, under the neoliberal dogma, commodification and gentrification threatens both the right to housing and the right to the city while in recent years, cities have become increasingly militarized and surveyed, resembling battlegrounds where freedom and democracy are under attack. At the same time, recent economic, political, and social crises have activated many counter-forces of resistance and creative alternatives for the grassroots production of food, health services, housing, networking infrastructures, and more.

The role of technology has been contradictory as well. On the one hand, the Internet has enabled some of the most remarkable peer production success stories at a global scale, such as Wikipedia and Free and Open Source Software, among many others. On the other hand, it has empowered huge corporations like Facebook and Google to fully observe and manipulate our everyday activities, and oppressive governments to censor and surveil their citizens.

At the city scale, technology offers opportunities for self-organization, like wireless community networks and numerous bottom-up techno-social initiatives, but also animates the top-down narrative of the “smart city” and the commodification of the “sharing economy as a service” provided by globally active platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. In this situation, peer production in space emerges as a vital bottom-up practice reclaiming citizen participation, and inventing new forms of community.

In this context, some core challenges arise:
– If we choose not tο rely on global players to provide peer production support at a local scale, how could different areas of peer production in the city, digital and physical, interact and support each other?
– What types of governance models can adequately support peer production in the city?

To address those challenges one needs to take into consideration the following:
– Lessons learned from the Internet and how they may be incorporated in the context-specific realities of the city.
– Knowledge-transfer methodologies across different localities.
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations (urban studies, media studies, sociology, architecture, cultural geography, informatics etc.).
– Possible collaborations and synergies between activists that fight for the “right to the city” and those that fight for the “right to the Internet”.
-Knowedge/experience transfer between non-urban settings (i.e. intentional communities, ecocommunities, the Transition movement, etc.) and the urban movements.
– Inquiry into research methods and methodologies to be developed and used for analysing ICT-mediated peer production in urban space.

This special issue aims to explore a wide variety of alternative and innovative peer practices, like urban agriculture, food sustainability, solidarity economy, right to the city movements, cooperative housing, community networks, P2P urbanism tactics, co-design practices and more, that are directly reflected in the production of urban space. We are particularly interested in novel combinations of theory, methodologies, and practices that can contribute to peer production in the city and enable new synergies between projects and communities.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– Urban commons and peer production
– Case studies of innovative peer practices approached from different perspectives
– Comparative case studies on patterns of commoning and think-global / act-local methodologies
– The regional dimension: examples from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
– Political issues of autonomy, hegemony, labour, gender, geopolitical and post-colonial perspectives
– Alternative forms of education and learning tools for promoting self-organization and community
– Innovative governance tools for peer production in the city
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methodological approaches
– Urban studies and the right to the (hybrid) city
– Open source urbanism/architecture
– Recycling/upcycling vs buying: making, consuming or prosuming the city?

Important dates
Abstract submission: 31 January 2017
Notification to authors: 15 February 2017
Submission of full paper: 15 May 2017
Reviews to authors: 15 July 2017
Revised papers: 15 September 2017
Signals due: 10 October 2017
Issue release: October/November 2017

Submission guidelines
Abstracts of 300-500 words are due by January 31, 2017 and should be sent to>. All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See Full papers and materials are due by May 15, 2017 for review. Peer reviewed papers should be around 8,000 words. We also welcome experimental, alternative contributions, like testimonies, interviews and artistic treatments, whose format will be discussed case by case with the editors.

*This special issue was initiated during the Hybrid City III (Athens) conference and developed further during the IASC Urban Commons (Bologna) and Habitat III (Quito) conferences.

The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies – @furtherfield exhibition

I just wanted to flag this excellent exhibition about to start at Furtherfield (in London). It involves the Museum of Contemporary Commodities alongside a lot of other great work and will very much be worth visiting.

The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies


Featuring Émilie Brout and Maxime Marion, Shu Lea Cheang, Sarah T Gold, Jennifer Lyn Morone, Rob Myers, The Museum of Contemporary Commodities (MoCC), the London School of Financial Arts and the Robin Hood Cooperative.

Furtherfield launches its Art Data Money programme with The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies at Furtherfield Gallery in the heart of London’s Finsbury Park.

The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies presents artworks that reveal how we might produce, exchange and value things differently in the age of the blockchain.

Appealing to our curiosity, emotion and irrationality, international artists seize emerging technologies, mass behaviours and p2p concepts to create artworks that reveal ideas for a radically transformed artistic, economic and social future.

Visit the Furtherfield website for more information.

Jean Lievens introduction to Michel Bauwens’ Sauver le Monde

Earlier this year I posted rough translations of both Bernard Stiegler’s Preface and Dirk Holeman’s Postface to Michel Bauwens and Jean Lievens’ book Sauver le Monde: Vers une société post-capitaliste avec le peer-to-peer [To Save the World: towards a post-capitalist society with peer-to-peer].

I’ve translated a bit more now and I make this translation available, for free, to the publishers to do as they wish with it. I hope it helps in some small way…

These are the first few pages of the book following the Preface, in two short sections: Introduction and About this book.

As usual, clarifications or original French are in square brackets and I welcome any comments or suggestions – although I’m not trying to offer an ‘authoritative’ translation…


“We do not live in a changing age, but rather a change of age”
Professor Jan Rotmans
(Professor of the Theory and Management of Transition,
Erasmus University Rotterdam)

It would be pointless to try to convince the reader of a book entitled To Save the World that life on Earth, as we understand it today, is in peril. Following a recently published study in the journal Nature Climate Change, more that half of terrestrial plants and the habitats of around a third of animals will disappear because of climate change if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at the current rate. Scientists at the renowned Global Footprint Network (an international laboratory of ideas that measures ecological sustainability using ‘ecological footprints’) have calculated that, at present, we will need a planet and a half to maintain the current global economy. Furthermore, the growth rate required to maintain this system until 2053 would require the global economy to quadruple. In this case, we would need six planets. One does not need to be genius to understand that endless growth on a finite planet is a scientific nonsense and we are heading for a crash. Faced with this bleak perspective for the future, there are different ways to react: simple denial, to resign ourselves to it, or to attempt to do something about it.

To change the world, we can draw inspiration from the past, but we need a new way of addressing the challenges of the future. Michel Bauwens brings us such a vision. Not the visions, but a vision. The title of this book thus reflects a certain arrogance inconsistent with his character. Indeed, very intelligent people are often very modest, because they are very conscious of their own limitations. But who is Michel Bauwens? Beneath the title “The most stimulating Belgian thinker is an unknown philosopher” in the newspaper De Morgen (on the 23rd March 2012) presents him as follows:

“Do you know Michel Bauwens? Perhaps not. This 54-year-old cyberphilosopher is not well known. Bauwens is the first Belgian to figure in a list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He finds himself in the illustrious company of people such as Mahatma Ghandi (9), Martin Luther King (24), The Dalai Lama (28), Thomas Malthus (55) and John Kenneth Galbraith (70). Bauwens occupies 82nd place, a few rungs above Eleanor Roosevelt (87).”

The list referred to in De Morgen, “The (En)Rich List”, is a table of 100 people established by the Post Growth Institute, an international group of scientists that lobby for a sustainable society in which prosperity can be created without a need for economic doctrine [besoin de croissance économique]. The list of the “most enriching people” is a foil [clin d’Å“il – literally “a wink”, could be translated to ‘a nod’] to the 100 “richest people” in the world, published annually by the American financial magazine Forbes.

Cyberphilosopher, futurologist, economist, researcher, conference convener, entrepreneur”¦ These are some of the epithets given to Michel Bauwens by journalists. Wikipedia designates him as a “peer-to-peer theorist”, and he describes himself in this book as a commentator and thinker attempting to forge a coherent link between the theories, hypotheses and explications of peer-to-peer, and to do so in the most ethical way possible.

So what is ‘peer-to-peer’ (abbreviated to P2P)? This is a term not well known or understood outside of the world of IT enthusiasts and geeks, nevertheless the collaborative economy, forged through networks of peers, has rapidly gained in popularity throughout our countries. A year before the publication of that short article in De Morgen, the Dutch-language Belgian newspaper De Tijd (on the 23rd April 2013) published a detailed interview with Michel, across a double-page spread. Little by little, he has gained notoriety even in his country of birth. As is often the case, local recognition comes on the back of an international breakthrough, and not vice versa. It is well-known that: “No one is a prophet in their own country” [«Nul n’est prophète en son pays» – this is an idiom that some suggest traces back to the apostles Luke and Matthew].

About this book

This book is the outcome of twelve Skype interviews, of around an hour each, between January and February 2014. If I had arranged twelve more hours, if someone else had interviewed Michel, this would have been a different book. In any case, our aim is to share with you some ideas at the heart of peer-to-peer, production between peers, in the hope of inspiring you to further your understanding through other lectures, books and studies. As this book contains a number of important new and uncommon terms (for example, you may have already struggled with the term ‘peer-to-peer’ in the subtitle of this book), we have created a glossary that is situated at the end of the book.

Personally, I think that politicians, whether on the right or the left, have a tendency to see the future [l’avenir] through the rear-view mirror. Just as Marxism is an ideological construct of the 19th century, liberalism and nationalism find their origins in the 18th century. From a historical perspective these ideologies each have respective values but they no longer offer a response to the enormous difficulties that confront us today. This is also expressed in the way that politicians are unable to offer solutions. Not only because the political class tends to defend the status quo and their vested interests but also because many of the problems can only be solved at a global scale and thus local authorities are powerless. This certainly does not mean that nothing is possible at a local level, quite the contrary. On those occasions when everything is paralysed at national and international levels, only local level action allows real progress. This is reflected in particular by increased urbanisation (since the beginning of the 21st century more than a half of the global population has lived in towns and cities), or what Eric Corijn calls the emergence of “urbanity” as new form of post-national society, but also by the development of peer-to-peer mechanisms through which a number of people take their fate into their own hands by launching new projects from within the very institutional framework with which they have often clashed. In the face of the pessimism of the political world, there is optimism within the science of peer-to-peer. This is why solutions will come first from civil society.

We live in an era of enormous possibilities, but also of contradictions and gigantic obstacles to the full realisation of those possibilities. Machines have releaved us of a large part of manual labour (and increasingly of intellectual labour), but the automisation of production processes has not translated into the redistribution or the reduction of working time. Financial markets, often governed by mathematical algorithms upon which no one has a grip, have a greater impact than governments upon our lives. Our parliaments vote for laws that render collaboration and sharing illegal. Our economic model is founded upon the absurd idea of material abundance and immaterial rarity. We behave as if the world was limitless and exploit it to the utmost, to the point of jeopardizing the survival of the human species. Furthermore, we use copyright and patents to build artificial barriers around human knowledge to complicate sharing and collaboration as much as possible. Yet, from the society of the industrial revolution emerged new models and ways of working, heralding a new society. Thus, today, in the words of the Dutch Scientist Jan Rotmans: “We do not live in an era of change but in a change of era”.

The emerging model of peer-to-peer, inspired by the open source movement, seeks to circumvent the false logic of material scarcity and the artificial scarcity of the immaterial. In the apparent tangle of new phenomena such as the collaborative economy, peer-to-peer networks, open source, crowd-sourcing, FabLabs, micro-factories, the “maker” movement, urban agriculture and so on, Michel Bauwens sees a model that leads us to a post-capitalist society, in which the market finally submits to the logic of the commons (the common good). This book is a first attempt to articulate ideas concerning peer-to-peer formulated by Michel Bauwens. It is not simply the result of the reflections of a single person but rather the collective inteilligence of a growing minority of active pioneers who are developing and revealing thousands of projects and experiences amongst peers. Hopefully they will be an inspiration for all who are active in this area and work to build a new world, starting with what affects us directly.

Jean Lievens
9th July 2013

Changing the world together – Dirk Holemans’ postface to Bauwens’ Sauver le Monde

I recently posted a translation of Bernard Stiegler’s Preface to Michel Bauwens and Jean Lievens’ book Sauver le Monde or Saving the World: Towards a post-capitialist society with peer-to-peer. In the book Michel, with his collaborator Jean Lievens, argues that a new distributed and de-centralised economic model is necessary to shake up the world and  drive us towards a post-capitalist society.

I have read a bit of the book now, which I hope will make it into English translation, in which Bauwens and Lievens conduct a wide-ranging, almost breathless, conversation about the promise of peer-to-peer for constructing a post-capitalist society. Interestingly, there is also a postface by Dirk Holemans, who is a coordinator of the independent Belgian think tank or ‘ideas lab’ Oikos, which I feel offers a nice overview and fulsome recommendation of the book.

I offer here a translation, which I have made available to the authors and publishers – it may need finessing but I think its a pretty good attempt…

Changing the world together

Dirk Holemans – Coordinator of the independent think tank Oikos

Society faces an unprecedented challenge: the 20th century model of production and consumption has been utterly spent. It is no longer possible, on our vulnerable planet, to continue to commercialise and market everything, and, in the process, to exhaust our energy supplies and primary resources. Furthermore, the fact that the global economy is controlled by 150 multinational corporations, which have no care for social equality, runs counter to the ideal of a highly-skilled society where citizens wish to collectively take control of the future.

In this sense we urgently need formidable thinkers who are able to both keenly analyse the current state of affairs and to develop concepts and resources that facilitate the collective construction of a different world. In this book Michel Bauwens vigorously fulfils this task. In the context of the contemporary system of capitalism, which is set within a longer historical evolution, he describes the enormous possibilities of the new peer to peer system. His argument, which is, in turn, provocative and stimulating, is that the way people relate to one another in horizontal networks facilitates a form of self-organisation, without authority, in the creation of common value that is more productive than can be achieved by private companies or official organisations. A good example is Wikipedia, the product of the efforts of millions of citizens across the world that has rendered privately edited encyclopedias redundant.

Michel Bauwens sees a great potential for emancipation in civil society. Indeed, opportunities for collaboration in horizontal networks are more important than ever before thanks to new information and communication technologies.  Nevertheless, this cyber-philosopher is not naive: the future will emerge from social struggle and social power relations. Accordingly, Facebook allows people to communicate but also appropriates the use value they create as users, thereby capturing exchange value–in other words: profit. Bauwens poses questions that thus will remain relevant: “Why not create, as a society, a digital cooperative to develop an alternative to Facebook?”, or: “Why not consider social media a form of public service?” He does not share the postmodern vision of knowledge workers guaranteeing themselves a career by virtue of their talent and their laptops. Even if a flexible career is aligned with peer production, such a society can only be stable with a guaranteed basic income.

Bauwens challenges the reader by asserting that peer-to-peer is not simply a new mode of production but in fact heralds a revolution in productivity that will change society at every level. This new model of value through cooperative individualism is focused on openness, sharing and collaboration. This vision of a post-capitalist future enables the prospect of a movement away from a model where the market price dominates, as is the case today, towards a model where sharing in-common has more weight. While we are currently working in organisations that operate in a system based on competition, this is a vision of a system in which collaboration is the dominant logic and where, in this context, competition is based on merit.

Bauwens offers us a provocative conceptual framework that outlines the process of transformation towards a post-capitalist system of values and practices, and ultimately to a new socio-economic system. This designates a key role for “social associations for solidarity” which develop and manage the commons, common goods, and which work with existing cooperatives. Such value systems do not simply fall from the sky, rather they emerge from new, concrete, practices. In effect, the internet renders our world open and horizontal, and allows users to autonomously organise themselves. Non-hierarchical collaboration, which was only previously possible at a small scale, can now extend to a global scale through networks and this has many ramifications. Thus, building a commons amongst P2P networks creates a form of socialisation via positive experiences that influence how we think and feel. This can lead to self-perpetuating beneficial cycles: by sharing more and more things (such as carpools) and buying, and therefore owning, fewer products such activities will become increasingly normal, we will do it more regularly and we will enjoy it.

In short, for Bauwens, the concept of peer-to-peer encompasses much more than technologies and the opportunities they create. In his eyes, it is infused with political substance: we can use it as lever for human emancipation by developing and testing new practices, such as forms of public-commons partnerships to replace current public-private partnerships. This opens up unprecedented possibilities for citizens to variously and collectively participate in projects in which they can individually work towards a sustainable future. However, we must seize the opportunities that now present themselves. A clear understanding of what is at stake presents a straightforward choice: Either we resign ourselves to the appropriation of peer-to-peer networks by the dominant capitalist system (as the total control of everything we do through our digital footprints [“shadows” in the original French: ombre numérique]), or we seize control of the direction of these networks for ourselves.