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Fiona Macmillan

Visiting Professor of Law from
University of London, UK

The loss of the concept of the public is one of the greatest catastrophes of the neoliberal period.

Professional biography
Research interests
Influence beyond the academy
Inspiring passions and concerns
Most significant publications
Hopes for the Visiting Professor Programme

Professional biography
I joined the Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, in September 2000. From 2003 to 2009 I was Birkbeck's Pro-Vice Master for Research. I have previously been a Visiting Professor of Law at the Sydney University of Technology and the University of Melbourne. Since 2009 I have been a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Roma Tre; and in 2014 I became the Co-Director of ISHTIP (International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property).

What are your main research interests?
I have intersecting research interests across the areas of intellectual property law, cultural property/heritage, international economic law, and the political economy of law. At present my two primary research projects are focussed on: first, the relationship between between intellectual property and cultural property/heritage; and, secondly, the question of work/labour in the neo-liberal period, with a particular focus on the way in which the regulation of intangibles impacts on this question.

How does your research have influence beyond the academic world? Does this include any roles you have beyond the academy?
I have a commitment to making the ideas explored in university-based research accessible for people outside academia. As a result of this, I have developed a particular interest in documentary film making as a vehicle for public communication. I am currently working on two projects that will involve the production a documentary intended to communicate the ideas of the projects in an accessible way.

Is teaching still a significant part of your working life? What particular method or approach would you say characterises your teaching?
Teaching is a central part of my working life because the class room is a critically important laboratory of ideas. For me, teaching has always had two very important roles: first, it requires the development of a coherent structure for the presentation of the relevant material that allows for the communication of ideas; and, secondly, I use it as a way of testing my ideas.

What specific passions or concerns particularly inspire you in your work?
A central concern of my work is the way in which the concepts of the public and of community have been diminished and tarnished in the neo-liberal period, which has largely been concerned with the perfecting the overwhelming dominance of private interests. The underlying theme of all my research is to explore how law and political economy have interacted in order to achieve this result.

Which of your publications would you regard as the most significant and why?
This is a very difficult question to answer. The best way that I can think of to measure the significance to me of my publications is to reflect on the extent to which I have managed to realise and communicate the underlying ideas. Since all academic work reflects the most recent moment in a trajectory of intellectual development (in the sense that we hope to “fail better”, as Samuel Beckett famously said, each time), I probably think my most significant publication at any given time is the one I wrote most recently.

What are you particularly hoping to achieve during your time as a Visiting Professor in Gothenburg?
Simply, I hope to be able to discuss and test my research with colleagues and students, and from these encounters to develop durable networks in which ideas that help us to live better and more equitably with one another, locally and globally, have a chance to take flight and enter into academic and public dialogue.

Fiona Macmillan


Would you like to meet Fiona and/or have an idea for future cooperation?

Send an email to her contact person at the School:
Ulf Petrusson

Or visit
her home university website!

Focus areas:

  • Intellectual property
  • Cultural property/heritage
  • International economic law
  • Law and political economy
Page Manager: Karin Jansson|Last update: 6/8/2016

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