|Calculating the Value of the Commons: Generating Resilient Urban Futures
In this paper we present a method for valuing the multidimensional aspects of urban commons. This method draws from and contributes to a broader conception of social or community returns on investment, using the case and data of a vibrant project, strategy, and model of ecological resilience, R-Urban, on the outskirts of Paris. R-Urban is based on networks of urban commons and collective hubs supporting civic resilience practices. We use data from 2015, the year before one of the hubs was evicted from its site by a municipal administration that could not see the value of an ‘urban farm’ compared to a parking lot. We combine estimates of the direct revenues generated for a host of activities that took place in R-Urban, including an urban farm, community recycling centre, a greenhouse, community kitchen, compost school, café, a teaching space, and a mini-market. We then estimate the market value of volunteer labour put into running the sites, in addition to the value of training and education conducted through formal and informal channels, and the new jobs and earnings that were generated due to R-Urban activity. Finally, we estimate the monetary value of the savings made by an environmentally conscious design that focused on water recycling, soil and biodiversity improvement, and social and health benefits, breaking them down by savings to the organization, participants and households involved in R-Urban itself, as well as savings to the state and the planet. Although our paper is built on specific quantities from a concrete project, the method has wide applicability to urban commons of many types seeking to demonstrate the worth and value of all their many facets and activities.
This paper is freely accessible on the journal webpage.
|Action Research for Diverse Economies
This chapter discusses how research can be part of a social action agenda to build new economies. This research is based on collaborations between researchers and research participants, and involves three interwoven strategies. The first focuses on developing new languages of economy; the second, on decentring economic subjectivity; and the third, on collective actions to consolidate and build economic initiatives. The chapter illustrates how these strategies feature in three research projects. The first project was based in the Philippines and involved working with an NGO and two municipalities to pilot pathways for endogenous economic development. The second project was based in the US Northeast and used participatory mapping techniques to reveal the use and stewardship of marine resources. The third project was based in Australia and focused on environmentally sustainable and socially and economically just forms of manufacturing. These projects resulted in collective actions that created new economic options.
|Reading for difference in the archives of Tropical Geography: Imagining an(other) Economic Geography for beyond the Anthropocene
This paper is based on the 2016 Neil Smith lecture presented at St Andrews University. It honours the work of a geographer whose pioneering work on uneven development and the complex relations between capitalism and nature shaped late 20th century thinking inside and beyond the discipline of Geography. Today the collision of earth system dynamics with socio-economic dynamics is shaking apart Enlightenment knowledge systems, forcing questions of what it means to be a responsible inhabitant on planet earth and how, indeed, to go onwards ‘in a different mode of humanity’ (to quote eco-feminist philosopher Val Plumwood). ‘The Great Acceleration’ since the 1950s of trends in key aspects of earth system health and socio-economic change highlights powerful dynamics that have shaped a new geological epoch, contentiously named the Anthropocene—or more perhaps to Neil’s liking, the Capitalocene. In this paper I ask how might we do geographic research in these times? I reflect on this question by drawing on the feminist anti-essentialist thinking strategy of reading for difference developed by J.K. Gibson-Graham. I attempt to open up new ways of working with uncertain possibilities. I do so with reference to field research into place-based knowledges of resilience in Monsoon Asia—a region that is experiencing increasingly uncertain and extreme ‘natural’ events that signal Anthropogenic climate change. I return to ‘area studies’ scholarship of Monsoon Asia conducted in the 1950s when the engines of economic change were starting to rev, fuelled by dire predictions of population explosion and the fear of communism. Like Neil, I am interested in the genealogy of geographical scholarship and the institutional contexts in which it developed and was influential. I look back to see how local knowledge was described and appreciated by two of our geographic forefathers and I consider how reading against the grain of capitalocentrism might play a role in making other worlds possible.
This article is freely accessible from the publisher's website.
|Beyond Business as Usual: A 21st Century Culture of Manufacturing in Australia
This report is based on in-depth research with ten manufacturers. It finds that along with operating dynamic and viable businesses these manufacturers are fostering a culture of just and sustainable manufacturing that is helping to tackle the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
The manufacturers include public corporations and cooperatives, and range from the privately-owned engineering firm, Varley Group, which is headquartered in the Hunter region and has been operating since 1886 to the not-for-profit social enterprise and clothing manufacturer, The Social Outfit, which was established in Newtown in Sydney in 2014.
|Creating community-based indicators of gender equity: A Methodology
It appears that an almost unquestioned development pathway for achieving gender equity and women’s empowerment has taken centre stage in mainstream development. This pathway focuses on economic outcomes that are assumed to be achieved by increasing women’s access to material things, including cash income, loans, physical assets, and to markets. Gender equity indicators, which measure progress toward these outcomes, cannot escape reinforcing them. We argue that far from being neutral; indicators are embedded in political and ideological agendas that serve as guides to the appropriate conduct of those whose performance or behaviour is being measured. Drawing on participatory feminist, diverse economies and strengths based approaches, we outline a research methodology for developing community-based indicators that recognises women and men’s participation and relationships in all spheres of life, including the ‘non-economic’. If indicators are grounded in local meanings and realities, we propose that community members can use them to identify aspirational goals for gender equity, and measure progress toward these goals.
|Infrastructures of care: opening up ‘home’ as commons in a hot city
What does it mean to be at home in a hot city? One response is to shut our doors
and close ourselves in a cocoon of air-conditioned thermal comfort. As the climate
warms, indoor environments facilitated by technical infrastructures of cooling are
fast becoming the condition around which urban life is shaped. The price we pay for
this response is high: our bodies have become sedentary, patterns of consumption
individualized, and spaces of comfortable mobility and sociality in the city, termed
in this paper as “infrastructures of care,” have declined. Drawing on the findings
of a transdisciplinary pilot study titled Cooling the Commons, this paper proposes
that the production of the home as an enclosed and private space needs to be
rethought as an infrastructure that potentially undermines more social, convivial,
and environmentally sensitive responses to a warming world. The paper asks, what
role might design now play in developing alternative infrastructures of care that start
with the idea of “home” as a distributed proposition?
|Economic Geography, Manufacturing and Ethical Action in the Anthropocene: A Rejoinder
We are thrilled by Vicky Lawson’s deeply appreciative response to the Roepke Lecture and the written article. In her response, Vicky does more than we could ask for by inviting economic geographers to think with us about ways of reworking manufacturing (and other economic activities) that center on care for the well-being of people and of the planet. Vicky goes to the heart of our project by highlighting the importance we place on looking for the ethical openings that arise in the current context of climate change and growing socioeconomic inequality. As she identifies, part of our armory includes tactics of attending to already existing possibilities that are hidden from view and reframing understandings of what an economy is for.
|Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography—Economic Geography, Manufacturing, and Ethical Action in the Anthropocene
In a world beset by the problems of climate change and growing socioeconomic inequality, industrial manufacturing has been implicated as a key driver. In this article we take seriously Roepke’s call for geographic research to intervene in obvious problems and ask can manufacturing contribute to different pathways forward? We reflect on how studies have shifted from positioning manufacturing as a matter of fact (with an emphasis on exposing the exploitative operations of capitalist industrial restructuring) to a matter of concern (especially in advanced economies experiencing the apparent loss of manufacturing). Our intervention is to position manufacturing for the Anthropocene as a matter of care.
|Public Declaration: Just and Sustainable Manufacturing in Australia
This public declaration was one outcome from the Reconfiguring the Enterprise Research Project. It was written and signed by the research team (Katherine Gibson, Stephen Healy, Jenny Cameron and Joanne McNeill) and the participating Australian manufacturers. The declaration was widely distributed, including to state and Federal members of parliament. It has contributed to ongoing discussions about the direction of Australian manufacturing in the 21st century.
|Community economies in Monsoon Asia: Keywords and key reflections
The paper has been collaboratively written with co‐researchers across Southeast Asia and represents an experimental mode of scholarship that aims to advance a post‐development agenda.This paper introduces the project of documenting keywords of place‐based community economies in Monsoon Asia. It extends Raymond William’s cultural analysis of keywords into a non‐western context and situates this discursive approach within a material semiotic framing.
|Commoning Social Life
From our atmosphere to the open ocean, from our languages to the rule of law, use without ownership underpins human experience. It is critical to our continued survival beyond the Anthropocene. These resources and properties are ineluctably shared because they are not wholly appropriable; they are used as part of a commons because they cannot be entirely exchanged. They are held in common because they cannot be completely enclosed. This essay is concerned with the use of and care for the commons as an object of inquiry, a practice of all social life, and as the operative condition of intellectual production.The essay continues the ‘Foundational Essays’ series developed by the Institute for Culture and Society on basic concepts and approaches in social enquiry and practice. In the Institute, we treat ‘commoning’ as a key concept of our collective project.
|Re-embedding Economies in Ecologies: Resilience Building in More than Human Communities
The modern hyper-separation of economy from ecology has severed many of the ties that people have with environments and species that sustain life. In this paper we argue that a first step towards strengthening resilience at a human scale involves appreciating the longstanding social and ecological relationships that have supported life over the millennia. Our capacity to appreciate these relationships has, however, been diminished by economic science which encloses ecological space within more and more delimited confines. Our task is thus to cultivate new sensibilities that will enable us to enact resilience in both our thinking and practice. The theoretical argument of this paper will be illustrated drawing on examples from a research project on strengthening economic resilience in Monsoon Asia. We explore how people and environments have co-produced ways of living with severe climatic disturbance. While longstanding infrastructural assemblages have been devalued or destroyed by modernization, key elements of these assemblages are now the subject of much interest. Bamboo, a building material central to survival in Monsoon Asia, has been dismissed as a viable element of modern Asia’s built environment. But this is changing as the properties of bamboo are re-evaluated. When humans are resituated within the vegetative assemblages that have supported life in Asia over the long durée we can begin to explore the ethical practices of bamboo and the ecological actions of humans that might co-produce more resilient and liveable futures.
|Asset-based and citizen-led development: Using a diffracted power lens to analyze the possibilities and challenges
Asset Based Community Development or Asset-Based and Citizen-Led Development (ABCD) is being used in a range of development contexts. Some researchers have been quick to dismiss ABCD as part of the neoliberal project and an approach that perpetuates unequal power relations. This paper uses a diffracted power analysis to explore the possibilities associated with ABCD as well as the challenges. It focuses on the application of ABCD in the Philippines, Ethiopia and South Africa, and finds that ABCD can reverse internalized powerlessness, strengthen opportunities for collective endeavors and help to build local capacity for action.
|Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment in the Solomon Islands and Fiji: a Place-based Approach
The economic empowerment of women is emerging as a core focus of both economic
development and gender equality programs internationally. At the same time there is
increasing importance placed on measuring outcomes and quantifying progress towards
gender and development goals. These trends raise significant questions around how well
gender differences are understood, especially in economies dominated by the informal sector
and characterised by a highly gendered division of labour, as is the case in many Pacific
countries. How well do existing international and national indicators of gender equality
reflect the experiences and aspirations of Pacific women and men? What do concepts such as
gender equality and economic empowerment mean in this geographical context? How might
local attitudes and practices be identified and measured? In this paper we draw on
Boaventura De Sousa Santos’ call to recognise and value knowledges of the majority world
that have been rendered either largely invisible or non-credible by mainstream development
and human rights policy agendas. Reflecting on an action research project conducted with
partner organisations in Fiji and the Solomon islands, we explore a more nuanced place-based
approach to understanding and measuring gender equality and economic
empowerment. This approach takes account of diverse economic practices, such as non-market
transactions, and forms of non-cash exchange and unpaid labour, and recognises the
imbalance in women’s and men’s household and care work.
|Post-industrial Pathways for a 'Single Industry Resource Town': a Community Economies Approach
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. Knowing that outcomes of such an emergent process cannot be taken for granted, tracking ideas and practices as we have done here is critical for this kind of collaborative research, as it helps to enhance reflexivity and inform decisions.
|Value in Postcapitalist Futures and More-than-capitalist Pasts
A contribution to a Book Symposium on George Henderson’s Value in Marx: The Persistence of Value in a More-Than-Capitalist World.
|Thinking Around What a Radical Geography 'Must Be'
Simon Springer’s essay on ‘Why a radical geography must be anarchist’ offers both a useful overview of anarchism’s continued relevance to geography today and a lively provocation to relocate the political center of radical geography. In this response I think along with Springer about strategies for everyday revolution and point to many contributions that already dislodged 'traditional Marxian analysis" from the moral, methodological and political high ground within radical geography. I explore some of the ways that insurrectionary geographies are being practised and are informed by an eclectic mix of political and theoretical traditions, including anarchism as well as some versions of marxism, but, more importantly are researching beyond the limits of both these political theories born of 19th century conditions and concerns.
|Cultivating Hybrid Collectives: Research Methods for Enacting Community Food Economies in Australia and the Philippines
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.
|Thinking with Marx For a Feminist Postcapitalist Politics
The article discusses the theoretical openings accorded by the recognition of economic difference and contingency within the Marxist tradition, exploring their potential contributions towards imagining and enacting a postcapitalist politics of economic transformation and experimentation.
|Different Merry-Go-Rounds: Families, Communities and the 7-Day Roster
A booklet outlining some of the major impacts of the 7-day work roster on families and communities from the perspective of women in four coal-mining communities in Central Queensland, Australia.
|The Nitty Gritty of Creating Alternative Economies
Amidst widespread concern about the economy, this paper explores how academic researchers can contribute to the work underway to create environmentally orientated and socially just economies. We offer the diverse economies framework as a technique with which to cultivate ethical economies.
|Rethinking the dynamics of rural transformation: performing different development pathways in a Philippine municipality
This paper draws on ecological ideas to rethink the dynamics of rural economic transformation in the Philippines.
|Building Community-Based Social Enterprises in the Philippines
Community-based social enterprises offer a new strategy for people-centred local economic development in the majority 'developing' world. In this chapter we recount the stories of four social enterprise experiments that have arisen over the last five years from partnerships between communities, NGOs and municipal governments in the Philippines, and university based researchers from Australia.
|ABCD Meets DEF: Using Asset-Based Community Development to Build Economic Diversity
This paper reframes existing economic diversity as a community asset that can be built on for community and economic development. The paper outlines strategies for doing this, and draws on examples from the Philippines and Australia.
|Openings in the Body of ‘Capitalism’: Trust Funds, ‘Marginal’ Places, and Diverse Economic Possibilities
Diverse economic possibilities in Kiribati.
|Representing Marginalisation:Finding New Avenues for Economic and Social Intervention
This paper describes the limiting ways in which people in marginalised areas are portrayed in policy and research, and introduces a different way of representing marginalised groups and the more enabling economic and social policies that result.
|Alternative Pathways to Community and Economic Development: The Latrobe Valley Community Partnering Project
Based on the Latrobe Valley Community Partnering Project, this paper introduces new ways of understanding disadvantaged areas, the economy, community and the research process in order to open up new ways of addressing social and economic issues.
|Participatory Action Research in a Poststructuralist Vein
This paper introduces a poststructuralist influenced participatory action research project seeking to develop new pathways for economic and community development in the context of a declining region.
|Building Community Economies in Marginalised Areas
This chapter elaborates an economic and social policy responses to build on the skills and ideas of marginalised groups.
|Women and Economic Activism in the Asia Pacific Region
How women's activism in the Philippines, China and Papua New Guinea is helping build and strengthen community economies.
|Transforming Communities: Towards a Research Agenda
A review of Australian research and policy interventions aimed at communities and regions from the perspective of the Community Economies Project.
|Community Economies: Economic Politics Outside the Binary Frame
Script of a presentation about the contradictory politics of "community" and how this website might help to redefine mainstream understandings of both community and economy.
|Negotiating Restructuring: A Study of Regional Communities Experiencing Rapid Social and Economic Change
How two communities in regional Victoria, Australia are beginning to rethink their relationship to processes of economic restructuring.
|The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy
In the mid-1990s, at the height of discussion about the inevitability of capitalist globalization, J. K. Gibson-Graham presented a groundbreaking argument for envisioning alternative economies. This new edition includes an introduction in which the authors address critical responses to The End of Capitalism and outline the economic research and activism they have been engaged in since the book was first published.