Re-embedding Economies in Ecologies: Resilience Building in More than Human Communities

J.K. Gibson-Graham, Ann Hill, Lisa Law

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.

Suggested citation

Gibson-Graham, J.K., A. Hill and L. Law, 2016 “Re-embedding Economies in Ecologies: Resilience Building in More than Human Communities” Building Research Information 44(7): 703-736.