Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons

Talk and panel discussion

David Bollier will give an overview of the latest thinking on the commons, based on his new book Free, Fair, and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons, which presents a foundational re-thinking of the commons – the self-organized social system that humans have used for millennia to meet their needs. It offers a compelling vision of a future beyond the dead-end binary of capitalism versus socialism that has almost brought the world to its knees. The talk will be followed by a Q&A and […]

The draining of the mere (Level 1, Performance space)

Story-telling by Otherstory

A storytelling that demonstrates, however benign the technology, it is who owns and controls it that matters. A narrative that recounts the conflict between the rich landowners who want to tame and exploit a marginal place and those whose subsistence is rooted in this rich wilderness. This tale of Whittlesea Mere in the Fenland starts in 1605 and ends in a few years into the future ...when the environment strikes back. Story lasts approximately 40 minutes.  

3 Acres and a Cow: A history of land rights and protest in folk song

Connecting the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with fracking, our housing crisis and Brexit via the Enclosures and Industrial Revolution, the show draws a compelling narrative through the people’s history of England. Part TED talk, part folk club sing-a-long, come and share these tales as they have been shared for generations. We expect this event to be very popular! Advance tickets are available here.  

Green Romanticism

Stephen Hunt will discuss the ecology movement’s deep roots in the Romantic era at the Dorset Radical Bookfair at the Corn Exchange, Municipal Buildings, High St East, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1HF. Industrial capitalism emerged together with the mass exploitation of fossil fuels during the Eighteenth Century. Over the next century it became increasingly apparent that accelerating processes of expansion and extraction threatened many habitats, or even the whole planet. Green Romantic […]

Ecology from below (Level 1, Studio 2)

Resisting Enclosure in Rural Somerset and Dorset, 1780-1850

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed widespread attempts to ‘privatise’ rural England. By enclosing common land and extinguishing customary rights, rural elites sought to physically reshape and culturally redefine the countryside. In counties such as Somerset and Dorset, labourers increasingly found themselves barred from entering the fields and woodland that had supported their families for generations. Meanwhile, those who attempted to voice their concerns regarding these changes […]

Green Romanticism (Level 1, Studio 2)

The roots of the ecology movement (1750-1900)

Stephen Hunt of the Bristol Radical History Group will start the day with an overview of the ecology movement’s roots in the Romantic era. Industrial capitalism emerged together with the mass exploitation of fossil fuels during the Eighteenth Century. Over the next century it became increasingly apparent that accelerating processes of expansion and extraction threatened many habitats, or even the whole planet. Green Romantic anti-capitalism was an outcome of such processes. The negative social […]

Back to the land (Level 1, Studio 2)

Personal reflections on green and community politics in the 1970s

In 1973 Kath Holden helped found a small commune based on a 135-acre dairy farm in West Wales. She went on to become a smallholder in the same area and disputed her entitlement to common grazing with local farmers, recalling earlier struggles for common-land rights. Later in the decade she volunteered on a farm in the USA, which offered sanctuary for people with mental health difficulties recovering from being in hospital. Inspired by these experiences, she went on to work on one of the earliest […]

Radical Culture

Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance, 1790-1820

By David Worrall
Worral's book concentrates on the period of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The narrative is based mainly in London, and looks at those who wanted to replicate the French Revolution in Britain. The main thread looks at those who believed in the work of Thomas Spence, who has largely been ignored in the mainstream history books. Spence was an ultra-radical, who saw the main problems with British society in land ownership. He wanted common land ownership, on a corporate basis, but […]

Radical History: Smuggling and Poaching in Dorset

At Bridport Museum, 25 South Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3NR

As part of BridLit Fringe Kev Davis and Steve Mills from the Bristol Radical History Group explore the history of smuggling and poaching in Dorset. Should Smugglers be considered folk heroes and to what extent smuggling was a community enterprise? Did you know poachers in some quarters are seen as the second oldest professionals? Who are they? Did they take game for the pot or to sell? Were they in direct competition with the landowners? Both sides used violence, guile and confederates with […]

The Sons of Belial

Protest and Community Change in the North West 1740-70

By David Walsh
This is a very good book, extremely informative. Even though the bulk of the book is set in the North West of England, there is a wider historical scope. Which would be very useful for the student or historian of the period. The book opens with an in depth examination of developing economic theories. It charts the shift from a largely agrarian, paternalistic society, to an industrialising nation, and rapid urbanisation. Furthermore, the study looks at the development of a mercantilist philosophy […]

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