The commons is increasingly invoked as a way to envision new worlds. One strand of commons research focuses at the local scale, on small groups in “traditional”, mostly rural societies; this research asks how commons are maintained over time. Another strand focuses on the commons at a global scale; this is political research that asks how commons can be reclaimed from a capitalist landscape. Here, I bridge these two approaches by theorizing the commons as reclaimed and maintained in the context of the city, through examining the experiences of limited-equity housing cooperatives in Washington, DC.
In this book chapter, we consider what it would mean to see the sites and practices of 'life's work' as potential areas that spark change in economies and subjectivities.
This essay responds to the generous commentaries on the talks Jodi Dean and I delivered during the 2013 Rethinking Marxism International Conference. It offers further reflections on communism as a political project, on its relation to postcapitalist practices, and on Dean’s desire to “return to the party,” making two distinct interventions. First, while I remain agnostic about the relevance of the party, I express concerns about Dean’s sharp delineation between what is political and what is merely lifestyle choice, postcapitalism being encompassed in the latter.
Building on the concept of econo-sociality (Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2009), I propose the related concept of econo-ecology to explore and interpret diverse knowledges and practices of the environment using a range of case studies centered on interrelationships between humans, plants and fungi in the United States and Scotland.
This paper argues that through becoming critical minds in the Latourian sense researchers can play a key role in enacting economic food futures in the Anthropocene. It proposes a new mode of critical inquiry by centering on three broad research matters of concern: (1) gathering and assembling economic diversity (2) human actancy and (3) nonhuman actancy.
This book chapter challenges the conventional separations between "economy" and "ecology," proposing instead a perspective of "ecological livelihoods" in which sustenance is understood as an always-collective process of ethical negotiation involving humans and myriad living others. Drawing on and modifying Gibson-Graham's previous work on "ethical coordinates," we suggest some glimmers of what an ethical economics in an acknowledged more-than-human world might look like.
Solidarity Economy is a movement that can build power within and across scales and win supportive policy and public resources. Using the development of SE in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, Massachusetts as examples, the article discusses the possibilities and challenges for SE projects to negotiate across differing values and politics, racial and class divides, and the challenge of accessing startup capital and building finance.
This commentary responds to papers by Jodi Dean and Stephen Healy in a special issue of Rethinking Marxism, proposing that one does not need to choose between being an anti-capitalist revolutionary attentive to the material power of capitalist colonization, or being a post-capitalist ethical subject, eschewing critique, and entirely disavowing capitalism and its forms of violence. Community economies theory can be significantly strengthened through increased engagement with two key domains of praxis that it has tended to avoid: militant cross-sector organizing and a non-totalizing critique of capital.
'Growing Community Food Economies in the Philippines' is a PhD thesis about collective ethical economic action. It draws on empirical cases of regional food projects in Manila and Mindanao and examines possible post-capitalist economic growth trajectories in the Philippines context. This project also examines collective methods. Drawing on actor network theory and hybrid collective thinking it empirically demonstrates 'hybrid collective world making', foregrounding the role various human and nonhuman actors (e.g. typhoons, river systems and digital media) play in shaping food and economic futures.
Excerpt 1 is a thesis chapter about community economies thinking and practice and growing community food economies in the Philippines through hybrid collective methods.
Introduction to a PhD thesis project about collective ethical economic action for a climate and resource changing world. It includes diverse economy food stories from the Philippines and from my home in the NSW Southern Tablelands of Australia, as well as a thesis outline.
On January 29th, 2014, a community conference called Groundswell brought community members together in order to inspire creativity, ideas, and relationships that advance the wellbeing of our community. This report illuminates both the process of facilitating meaningful community engagement as well the outcomes of doing so. The report was written for the community in which the event took place, but the hope is that it also inspire similar efforts in other communities that are ready for a groundswell of their own.
Although communities are constantly undergoing processes of becoming the Powell River community on Canada’s Pacific coast is in a unique transitional moment when it comes to possibilities for post-industrial economic pathways. With the downsizing of its main industry and employer over the past 3 decades, community members are currently exploring a diverse range of economic possibilities that extend beyond strictly capitalist options. Reading for economic diversity can help us to identify and pursue existing and potential economic pathways that enhance wellbeing for human and nonhuman community members.
Since all communities face their own sets of unique challenges and assets, this report explores possibilities for new economic futures in the context of one particular community. By contextualizing the discussion within broader economic and political realities, it also provides insights for other communities that are undergoing economic and social transitions and striving to do so in a sustainable and humane way.
What exactly constitutes an economy? Making Other Worlds Possible brings together a compelling range of projects inspired by the diverse economies research agenda pioneered by J. K. Gibson-Graham. Firmly establishing diverse economies as a field of research, Making Other Worlds Possible outlines an array of different ways scholars are enacting economies that privilege ethical negotiation and a politics of possibility.
What makes the book so special is that each of authors know the communities they speak of and they write with real passion — Antipode
This practice-based doctorate sets out to investigate and intervene in the tense relation between the production of socially as well as politically relevant design work and the socio-economic precariousness many designers experience. Starting from an engagement with the precarious working conditions of designers, their genealogy over the last 30+ years and the role precarisation plays in forming docile creative subjects, the research moves on to a wider critique of the political economy and of its precarising value practices. Based on this analysis, it then considers the strategic use that can be made of concepts around the commons in order to undo procedures of precarisation.
This practice-based research sets out to investigate and intervene in the tense relation between the production of socially as well as politically relevant design work and the socio-economic precariousness many designers experience. Starting from an engagement with the precarious working conditions of designers, their genealogy over the last 30+ years and the role precarisation plays in forming docile creative subjects, the research moves on to a wider critique of the political economy and of its precarising value practices. Based on this analysis, it then considers the strategic use that can be made of concepts around the commons in order to undo procedures of precarisation.
[EN: Value with No Price? A Study on the Motives and Ethics of Unpaid Translation], Master’s thesis, Master’s Programme in Multilingual Communication and Translation Studies, School of Language, Translation and Literary Studies, University of Tampere, Finland.
The limited-equity cooperatives that emerged in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s and '80s were a form of the commons: a resource that is governed collectively by its members, and is used not to extract profit for a few individuals, but to support the lives of a group. The commons are a dignified basis of survival for poor people who are largely cut out of capitalist markets, an alternative to both market- and state-oriented approaches to managing resources and sustaining life. In Washington, a housing commons arose when two historical factors came together in the 1970s: the return of Home Rule and a wave of gentrification and tenant organizing.
Community-produced spaces such as community gardens are attracting widespread scholarly interest for the potential of not only food production, but also for social, environmental, and educational benefits. Yet community gardens have also been scrutinized as sites of governmentality that produce neoliberal subjects. In this article, six case studies are analyzed as representative of three ways to organize and manage gardens—grassroots, externally-organized, and active nonprofit management. I use performativity theory to examine how definitions and enactments of community can be used to include, exclude, or bridge difference.
This editorial introduces the papers that form this special edition on Researching Diverse Food Initiatives. The papers had their genesis in a series of sessions held at the Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference in September 2009. The sessions sought to draw together research on existing alternatives to mainstream agriculture and to further understand the role of research and researchers in contributing to the movements they study. This editorial focuses on two themes arising from the papers: the plethora of diverse food initiatives from across the globs; and the role of research in helping to strengthen this diversity.
Research is increasingly recognised as a generative and performative practice that contributes to shaping the world we come to live in. Thus part of the research ‘process’ involves being explicit about the worlds we want our research to contribute to and reflecting on how the concepts we use might help or inhibit this agenda. This paper is based on our commitment to strengthening the contributions that grassroots renewable energy initiatives might make to a climate changing world. However, to detect the potential of these initiatives, familiar concepts of scale and markets have to be recast.
In a recent essay Michael Hardt gives voice to a widespread discontent with the left-academic project of critique, stemming from its failure to deliver on its emancipatory promises. Scholarship, in geography and many other social science disciplines is dominated by a pre-occupation with charting the intricate connections between neoliberal governance and an expansive capitalism. As Hardt and many others have observed, the process of critical exposure fails to incite a political response from broader publics. As an alternative to the failed politics of critique, Hardt — inspired by Foucault's engagement with the cynics—argues for a practice of militant biopolitics—an autonomous mode of reflecting, thinking and acting together that eschews expert knowledge.
A review of The Solidarity Economy Alternative: Emerging Theory and Practice, edited by Vishwas Satgar (Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2014).
This paper was written as part of a suite of papers presented at a Wenner-Gren Foundation Workshop on ‘Crisis, Value and Hope: Rethinking the Economy.’ It brings diverse economy thinking and the practice of weak theorizing to bear on the anthropological interest in producing thick description.
This paper explores and compares the activities of two green economy coalitions. I investigate how social actors, including myself, have been negotiating, responding to, and producing the meaning of the green economy, and the meaning of "the economy" writ-large, through our political efforts. I am particularly interested in thinking about the ways in which the expression of different desires for economy can lead to openings, or closures, for the construction of non-capitalist relationships, initiatives, and enterprises.
In this introduction to a special section on non-capitalist political ecologies in the Journal of Political Ecology, we discuss how engaged researchers can significantly contribute to a meaningful "ecological revolution" by (1) examining the tremendously diverse, already-existing experiments with other ways of being in the world, (2) helping to develop alternative visions, analyses, narratives, that can move people to desire and adopt those ways of being, and (3) actively supporting and constructing economies and ecologies with alternative ethical orientations.
The three familiar categories of "economy," "society," and "environment"--staples in discourses of sustainable development--constitute a hegemonic formation that widely and problematically shapes the landscape of imagination and contestation, rendering particular, historically-produced relations seemingly inevitable and closing down possibilities for more generative and ethical modes of relationship. At the same time, however, economy, society, and environment are categories in crisis, and the world they aspire to organize and discipline is already escaping their clutches. A key task of our era is to identify, amplify, and connect multiple 'lines of flight" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987) beyond these categories.
In this paper authors Cameron, Gibson and Hill discuss two research projects in Australia and the Philippines in which we have cultivated hybrid collectives of academic researchers, lay researchers and various nonhuman others with the intention of enacting community food economies. We feature three critical interactions in the 'hybrid collective research method': gathering, reassembling and translating. We argue that in a climate changing world, the hybrid collective method fosters opportunities for a range of human and nonhuman participants to act in concert to build community food economies.
In water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) literature and interventions, it is common to class households with anything other than private toilets as without sanitation. This implies that the people who use forms of hygiene and sanitation relying on collective toilets and alternative strategies are somehow unhygienic. Yet residents of Xining (Qinghai Province, China) rely on hygiene assemblages that do not always include private toilets, but nonetheless still work to guard health for families with young children. In this paper, I develop a postdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation based on starting with the place-based hygiene realities already working to guard health in some way, then working to multiply possibilities for future sanitation and hygiene strategies.