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Call for papers. The contribution of the commons. The effect of collective use and management of natural resources on environment and society in European history. Workshop in Pamplona-Iruñea (Spain)

Fecha: Friday, November 6, 2009 - Saturday, November 7, 2009
Lugar: Departamento de Economía / Universidad Pública de Navarra
Organiza:  Grupo de investigación 315 Economía e Historia, dirigido por el profesor Josemari Aizpurua


The contribution of the commons.The effect of collective use and management of natural resources on environment and society in European history.Pamplona-Iruñea (Spain), 5-6-7 November 2009

Despite intense privatization efforts in Europe and the Americas since 1750, collective ownership use of natural resources is still omnipresent. The customs that have survived may not be merely dismissed as marginal relics of times gone by in run-down areas. The drive and vitality of communal customs in some regions and their compatibility with economic growth reveals a complex process of historical change. Their prolonged lifespan and the huge variety of communal modes defined by user type, access rules, limitations and prohibitions, etc, also invite researchers to appraise the efficiency of communal systems in adapting to different social and ecological environments. Despite the fact that these modes of cooperation have been able to offer their users advantages in terms of scale, sustainability and overall use of land, they are not exempt from social conflict nor do they guarantee a sustainable use of resources.

This meeting aims at assessing the effect of commons on the surrounding environment and society. Despite the reputation common property regimes have earned as being an inefficient way to manage natural resources both in economic and social terms, there are ample examples of communities of commoners that have shown their ability to adapt to changing contexts, and have been a driving force behind a balanced environmental and social development. Such issues have been well-studied in other social sciences, and can offer a source of inspiration for historical research.


Thursday, 5 November, 15,00


José-Miguel Lana and Josemari Aizpurua

Session 1. Natural resources and its collective uses: water and forests

  • José Rivera & Luis-Pablo Martínez: “Acequia culture:  historic irrigated landscapes of New Mexico”
  • Samuel Garrido: “Water and irrigation communities in eastern Spain (19th and 20th centuries)”
  • Lenka Slavíková, Tatiana Kluvánková-Oravská, Sonja Trifunovova, Vít¿zslav Malý: “Public, communal or private forests – an experimental evidence of human behavior from Czech and Slovak Republic”
  • Liviu Mantescu: “Community-based institutions for managing forest commons facing Natura 2000 regulations”

Chair: Josemari Aizpurua

Discussant: Erling Berge

Friday, 6 November, 9,30

Session 2. Community and the management of environment

  • Angus J L Winchester: “Property rights, ‘good neighbourhood’ and sustainability: the management of common land in England and Wales, 1235-c. 1800”
  • Esther Pascua Echegaray: “Bringing the Environment back in: Communities and Sustainability in Medieval and Early Modern Aragon”
  • Margherita Pieraccini: “The quest for sustainability in the legal pluralist context of the English common land”
  • Roberta Cevasco and Vittorio Tigrino: Feudal jurisdiction, common properties and management: an inquiring between historical micronalysis and field sources (Ligurian Apennines, XVII-XXI).

Chair: Nadine Vivier

Discussant: Antonio Ortega

Friday, 6 November, 15,00

Session 3. Beyond physical resources: culture, cohesion and the new commons

  • Jesús Izquierdo Martín: Epic and Tragedy of the Commons. Language, identity and colective property in pre-modern Castile
  • Daniel Schläppi: “Corporate Property, Collective Resources and the Political Culture of the Old Eidgenossenschaft (Switzerland in the 17th and 18th Century)”
  • Hans Sevatdal: “New commons established by pooling, facilitated by The Land Consolidation Courts - Norwegian experiences and examples.”
  • Antonio Ortega Santos: “New Commons”. About Social Strategies and Social Decision Making for the management of woodlands in Mediterranean Ecosystem, XXth century”.

Chair: Tine de Moor

Discussant: Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi

Saturday, 7 November, 9,30

Session 4. Facing external shocks: communities and the survival of the commons

  • Fernando Esteve Mora & Javier Hernando Ortego:  “Managing the commons, urban demand and sustainability: The evolution of the forest resources in the Sierra de Guadarrama (Spain), 16th-18th centuries”
  • Paolo Tedeschi: “Notes on Common Lands in the Eastern Lombardy in the 19th Centuries”
  • Niels Grüne: “Struggle for Stability: the Transformation of the Commons in Rural South-West Germany (18th-19th Centuries)”
  • Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia: “Diversity of Economic Landscapes and Common Land Persistence in 19th Century Spain.”

Chair: Erling Berge

Discussant: Tine de Moor

Conclusions of the meeting: Nadine Vivier and José-Miguel Lana

Organizers:Jose-Miguel Lana (Public University of Navarra), Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi (University of Zaragoza), Antonio Ortega (University of Granada), Antonio M. Linares (University of Extremadura), Tine de Moor (Utrecht University), Erling Berge (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

This workshop is supported by the National R&D&I Plan 2004-2007: research project HUM2006-01277 Enigma of commons. Surviving and management of common pool resources in European rural communities

The workshop has also the support of the Public University of Navarre



Those interested in attendance the workshop should fill and send the inscription form to the address: josem.lana@unavarra.es

Inscription form

Inscription fee: 20 €

Fee should be pay in this account number in Caja Rural de Navarra: IBAN – ES16 3008 0001 1807.0019.0523

  • It is important to write the reference 2597 and the name of the payer.
  • Payment gives the right to the certificate of attendance