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Tine de Moor

As a historian and environmental scientist my main interest goes to understanding why people set-up commons and other forms of institutions for collective action and how they manage to make their initiatives durable and resilient, why these institutions survive and thrive over the (very) long run. Many IASC-scholars have contributed to understanding these issues, many of whom have been working in Less Developed Countries where institutions for collective often still play an important role in daily live. However, in particular in times of political, economic and ecologic crises as we know today, it becomes clear that such institutions can also make a difference and can be a viable alternative in developed countries as well, where the principles of self-governance and cooperation have to a large extent been erased from the collective memory. And yet, there is a lot to learn from both the historical examples that have managed to survive centuries as from the present-day examples elsewhere, which are at the core of the IASC’s members’ interest. Being based in the Netherlands & Belgium, I witness on a daily basis new initiatives being set-up by “normal” citizens who choose collective action for an alternative model for their provision in energy, care, culture and other goods and services (see and www.iasc-commons/commonsinaction) for examples. New cooperatives and other types of collective governance, consumption and production play today a key-role in dealing with the failure of the market and the retreat of the welfare state. In dealing with these problems, European citizens rediscover self-governing institutions as a durable and well-functioning alternative. But these citizens also crave for knowledge, guidance in how to run such a self-governing institution. With our team in Utrecht, we support such initiatives with knowledge derived from our historical studies but also by demonstrating that much of the knowledge they need is already out there among the daily practitioners of the commons in Africa, Asia, Latin America. Our intention here is to more explicitly “reverse the knowledge chain” and find the knowledge where it is daily practiced. This process will also give more visibility to “knowledge common” the IASC itself already is. The IASC forms the ideal network environment to identify where the knowledge on self-governance, on cooperation and participation (and much more) that is needed is present - whether among scholars or practitioners - and to bring it where it is needed.

Over the next few years, I intend to contribute to strengthening the IASC further in various ways. Considering the current developments whereby self-governance and commons are being “rediscovered” as viable governance models, we can increase the involvement of citizens in the “science of cooperation” via various projects whereby the practitioners’ side of the IASC can play a very active role. The IASC can also be more than it is now a very suitable environment where scholars find each other for international collaboration projects on different aspects of the functioning of the commons. Lastly, I hope we can expand our network of and collaboration with more diverse institutional members so that we can further our impact on policy related to the many domains and regions in which the IASC is active.
I have been active in the Association since 2001 and served on the Executive Council from 2008 until present. From 2003 onwards I prepared, together with Erling Berge, the launch of the International Journal of the Commons in 2007, remained editor until the year after and I’m still a member of the editorial board. In 2006, I organized with Giangiacomo Bravo the regional European Conference of the IASC in Brescia. I am also a board member of the Elinor Ostrom Award for Collective Governance of Common Resources. Trained as a historian (Ghent, London) and environmental scientist (Antwerp) (Ph.D. history from Ghent University (Belgium), I am Full Professor on a chair entitled “Institutions for collective action in historical perspective” at Utrecht University in the Netherlands where I lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers on this topic, within the department of social and economic history. As one of the scholars involved in the Interdisciplinary Knowledge Institute “Institutions of the Open Society”, I have received a number of large research grants on commons and related issues. I have published in journals and books with varying disciplinary background, but most of my work deals with commons and other aspects of long-term change in Europe; besides I supervise research on cooperation and economic history in other parts of the world as well (Uganda, Uruguay). For further information about the research of our team, see:

Selected publications and references

  • T. De Moor, ‘Avoiding tragedies. A Flemish common and its commoners under the pressure of social and economic change during the eighteenth century’, the Economic History Review, February 2009, pp. 1-22.
  • T. De Moor, ‘The Silent Revolution: A New Perspective on the Emergence of Commons, Guilds, and Other Forms of Corporate Collective Action in Western Europe’ The International Review of Social History (special issue on guilds), 53 (suppl. 16) 2008, pp. 175-208.
  • G. Bravo and T. De Moor, ‘The Commons in Europe: from past to future’, The International Journal of the Commons, 2(2) 2008, pp. 155-161 (URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-IJC/08008)
  • T. De Moor and Erling Berge, ‘Welcome to the International Journal of the Commons’, in The International Journal of the Commons, (1)1 2007, pp. 1-2 (
  • T. De Moor, ‘The past is not another country. The long-term historical development of commons as a source of inspiration for research and policy’, for the Commons-Digest, Quarterly Publication of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, June 2007, pp. 1-4.


Tine de Moor
Research Institute for History and Culture
Utrecht University
Drift 10
3512 HL Utrecht
The Netherlands
Phone: 00 31 30 253 64 60