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.
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.
Much has been written about families and their influence on relationships and research in fieldwork, yet seldom has the absence of family in the field received analytical attention.
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.
This paper draws on interviews with economic development professionals in Maine (USA) to pursue two tasks: first, to explore the potentials and limits of Calsikan and Callon's notion of "economization" as the tracing of how "the economic" is produced as a material-semiotic construction; and second, to propose an approach that refuses the assumption that the composition of collective provisioning will (or should) take the ultimate form of an "economy." Development processes and struggles can also be read in terms of the "composition of livelihoods," beckoning toward a transversal politics that might open up possibilities for unexpected alliances and alternative regional development pathways.
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.
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.
Literature review of Urban Political Ecology. Focuses on the need for more work on environmental imaginary, governance, and the non-human.
At the same time as fair trade certified products are capturing an increasing market share, a growing number of scholars and practitioners are raising serious questions about who benefits from certification. Through a critique of north–south narratives, this paper draws on contemporary themes in fair trade scholarship to draw out different ways of thinking about fair trade outside of the dichotomous north–south framing. I argue that, through the creation of fair trade subjects of the ‘‘global north’’ and ‘‘global south,’’ certification has normalized and naturalized dichotomous power relations.
•Community gardens are often seen as temporary uses of vacant land.
•Gardeners see them as important parts of neighborhoods and cities.
•Local governments and organizations historically planned gardens to be temporary.
•Increasingly, gardeners reproduce those dominant narratives as well.
•Rethinking these transformations can lead to better policy toward vacant land.
Artists and artisans have a crucial role in the sustainability of the creative economy. By utilizing a participatory action research approach seeded by the work of J. K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Julie Graham's study of community economies in the Pioneer Valley, The Rethinking the Creative Economy Project demonstrates how a collaborative research methodology can reappropriate development from the exploitation of artists and artisans as a panacea for economically challenged communities and as a tool that can help perform a postcapitalist environment.
Article for the Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) journal
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.
This article engages with the notion of the city as capitalist space, focusing on the specific actors that come together to realign economically heterogeneous spaces into the monolithic, capitalist city.
In this short commentary, I engage with other economic geographers reflecting on whether there is an 'Antipodean' Economic Geography. I argue that this is less a matter of fact and more of a point of gathering: by naming and gathering something called an Antipodean Economic Geography, what possibilities do we enable and disable for new kinds of economies and geographies?
This essay explores the discursive production of numerous, well-meaning efforts to respond to social and economic restructuring in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Drawing upon the work of Slavoj Zizek, we suggest that the focus on what is perceived to be reasonable, or realistic, is maintained by and helps to maintain, the normal workings of capitalist exploitation which appear as inevitable, natural, or altogether invisible.
Written as a response to a series of commentaries on 'Antipodean Economic Geography’ this piece draws on my fieldwork experience to question whether it is useful to invoke the ‘otherness’ of the Antipodes. I call for a habituation of the practice of looking for difference as a way of cutting across the Antipodean-Metropole binary invoked in the discussion.
This introduction shows how J. K. Gibson-Graham's work continues to inspire current scholarship in the Marxian tradition. It provides an overview of articles published in Rethinking Marxism as Part I of a two-part symposium.
This short essay considers the limitations of critical anthropological theory and in particular critiques of capitalism. We suggest that anthropology's emancipatory potential can be found in an approach that embraces anthropology's moral optimism and merges critique with a politics of possibility.
Phil Ireland and I collaborated on this paper during his PhD studies while I was at Macquarie University. We sought to bring together his work on Climate Change Adaptation with my thinking on post-development. We argue that when it comes to efforts to support Climate Change Adaptation in the majority world, it is important to challenge technocratic approaches that dismiss the value of local innovations. Instead we draw inspiration from the work of J.K. Gibson-Graham and their injunction to refuse to know too much.
Much of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s work has been aimed at opening up ideas about what action is, both by broadening what is considered action (under the influence of feminist political imaginaries and strategies), and by refusing the old separation between theory and action. But the coming of the Anthropocene forced Julie and I to think more openly about what is the collective that acts. In this lecture I ask: what might it mean for a politics aimed at bringing other words into being to displace humans from the centre of action and to see more-than-human elements as part of the collective that acts?
This paper explores and elaborates on J.K. Gibson-Graham's concept of "community economy," refracting it into three interrelated dimensions of ontology, ethics and politics, and placing them in conversation with one another via comparative explorations of both community economy and solidarity economy as contemporary articulations for radically-democratic economic organizing.