Politics of the Economy
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.
Literature review of Urban Political Ecology. Focuses on the need for more work on environmental imaginary, governance, and the non-human.
Gabriel, N. 2014. "￼Urban Political Ecology: Environmental Imaginary, Governance, and the Non-Human". Geography Compass 8(1):38-48.
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.
Loh, Penn and Boone Shear. 2015. Solidarity economy and community development:
emerging cases in three Massachusetts cities. (forthcoming) in Community Development. 46 (3)
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. This paper proposes a concept of "ecological livelihoods" as one experimental step in this direction.
This paper explores the territoriality and politics of birth. Engaging with debates that are largely polarised between discourses of natural versus medical birth, in this paper I take an in depth look at one birth story, and look for a different way to think through how women’s birth experiences might be understood. Written at the beginning of a year of research into women’s birth experiences this paper represents my early thinking in the study.
McKinnon, K. (published online Sept 2014) ‘The Geopolitics of Birth’ Area
This paper draws on interviews with economic development professionals in Maine (USA) to pursue two tasks: first, to explore the potentials and limits of Çalsikan 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.
Miller, Ethan (Forthcoming). "Economization and Beyond: (Re)composing Livelihoods in Maine, USA." Environment and Planning A.
Boone Shear, Shear
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.
Shear, Boone. 2014. Making the Green Economy: Politics, Desire, and Economic Possibility. Journal of Political Ecology. 21: 193-209.
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.
Burke, Brian J. and Boone Shear. 2014. Introduction: Engaged Scholarship for Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies. In Burke B.J. and B.W. Shear (eds) 2014. Non-Capitalist Political Ecologies. Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology. 21: 127-144.
Written with Robyn Dowling this chapter offers a discussion of theories of identity in human geography, and draws on recent research by each of the authors to elaborate new challenges to the way geographers think about identity. Includes consideration of the impacts of J.K. Gibson-Grahams thinking around subjectivity, collectivity, and social change to geographers engagements with identity across different fields.
Dowling, R. and McKinnon, K. (2014) ‘Identities’, for Lee, R., Castree, N., Kitchin, R., Lawson, V., Paasi, A., Radcliffe, S., Withers, C.W.J., (eds) Sage Handbook of Human Geography, Sage Books
This paper explores what we might call "diverse economies of surplus," attempting to further develop Gibson-Graham's notion of surplus as an "ethical coordinate" and examining a number of key ethical and political questions raised when surplus is pushed beyond its conventional Marxian formulation.
Miller, Ethan. 2013. "Surplus of Surplus: From Accounting Convention to Ethical Coordinates." Paper presented at the Rethinking Marxism Gala, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 21 September 2013.
This articles 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.
Gabriel, N. 2013. "Mapping urban space The production, division and reconfiguration of natures and economies". City 17(3): 325–342, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2013.798478
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’.
Ireland, P. and McKinnon, K. (2013) ‘Strategic localism for an uncertain world: A postdevelopment approach to climate change adaptation’ Geoforum 47: 158-166
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.
McKinnon, K. (2013) ‘A different kind of difference: Knowledge, politics and being Antipodean’ Dialogues in Human Geography 3(2) 213-216
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 Žižek, 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.
Shear, Boone W. and Lyon-Callo Vin. 2013. Kalamazoo’s Promise: Exploring the Violence of Economic Development. City and Society. 25 (1): 70-91
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.
Miller, Ethan (2013). "Community Economy: Ontology, Ethics and Politics for Radically-Democratic Economic Organizing," Rethinking Marxism, 25(4).
This is a short review of Renata Salecl's The Tyranny of Choice. Salecl shows us that our actions are not driven entirely by the rational mind but are influenced by unconscious desires that are themselves produced by a relationship to the symbolic order. One implication is that we can’t simply will ourselves a new world. Stepping out of the political and ethical morass of fighting over which form of capitalism is better or more humane might require more than rational discussions about the vagaries of capitalism, speaking truth to power, or making rational demands on the state.
Shear, Boone W. 2012. Review of Renata Salecl's The Tyranny of Choice. Society and Space-Environment and Planing D. July. http://societyandspace.com/reviews/reviews-archive/salecl-renata-2011-tyranny-of-choice-reviewed-by-boone-shear-posted-14-july-2012/
"The commons" is often represented in terms that place capitalism at the center of the story, thus making "a commons future" difficult to imagine. This paper examines this problematic through research on the common property management regime of New England fisheries, seeking to offer alternative representations of commons that might open up economic possibility.
St. Martin, K. 2005. “Disrupting Enclosure in New England Fisheries,” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 16(1): 63-80.
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.
Gibson, K. Different Merry-Go-Rounds: Families, Communities and the 7-Day Work Roster (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Centre for Women's Studies and Department of Geography and Environmental Science, 1993).
The chapters in this edited collection were envisioned as conversations between scholars and indigenous collaborators from around the world. My contribution was drew from a Roundtable session with highland activists and community representatives who met in Chiang Mai in 2007 to discuss how to represent themselves as indigenous. It demonstrates an early engagement with a methodology of conversation
McKinnon, K. (2012) “Being indigenous in Northern Thailand”, in Venkateswar, S. (ed) The Politics of Indigeneity: Dialogues and reflections on indigenous activism, Zed Books: 145-171
Inspired by and written for the global #Occupy Movement, this text is part theory, part strategy and part call-to-action for the immediate and long-term work of identifying and seizing spaces of democratic practice (occupy!), linking them together in networks of mutual support and recognition (connect!), and drawing on our collective strength to actively create new ways of meeting our needs and making our livings (create!).
Miller, Ethan. 2011. "Occupy! Connect! Create! Imagining Life Beyond "The Economy," in Amber Hickey (Ed.) A Guidebook of Alternative Nows. Los Angeles: Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press.
Written in the early weeks of the Occupy movement, this short essay understands Occupy as reflecting and releasing dormant and suppressed economic values from which to imagine and practice a new world.
Shear, Boone and Healy, Stephen. 2011. Occupy Wall Street: A Gift for the Economy. Truthout. http://truth-out.org/news/item/4369:occupy-wall-street-a-gift-for-the-economy
Rethinking Economy for Regional Development: Ontology, Performativity and Enabling Frameworks for Participatory Vision and Action
This thesis involves three interrelated projects: first, a critique of conventional regional development literature; second, an exploration of the "performativity" of (economic) discourse at both conceptual and material levels; and third, a survey of alternative economic ontologies that might help us to imagine more diverse, ecological, equitable and democratic livelihoods.
Miller, Ethan. 2011. Rethinking Economy for Regional Development: Ontology, Performativity and Enabling Frameworks for Participatory Vision and Action. MS Thesis. Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA, USA.
In this chapter I consider what identification is from a social geography perspective. Drawing on fiedwork with indigenous activists in Thailand I explore what identification is, what it means and how it works. Engaging with a range of social theorists such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler and J.K. Gibson-Graham I discuss the processes through which we are identified in the systems of governance and power that prevail in the contemporary world and what these processes mean both for how we are subjected to the machinations of power in the world and how we may act within and upon them.
McKinnon, K. (2011) “Identification”, in Del Casino, V., Thomas, M., Panelli, R. A Companion to Social Geography, Blackwell Publishing: 37-54
In Dirt!: The Film, Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Africa, tells the story of the tiny hummingbird who fights a huge bush fire drop by tiny drop of precious water. What can the little hummingbird tell us about ways of building a sustainable food future? This paper explores this question.
Cameron, J. 2010. Take back the (food) economy: lessons from the hummingbird. Keynote Presentation, Fair Share Festival, Newcastle, October 22-23.
An overview of concepts and strategic organizing practices of the emerging solidarity economy movement.
Miller, E. 2010. Solidarity Economy: Key Concepts and Issues, in E. Kawano and T. Masterson and J. Teller-Ellsberg (eds), Solidarity Economy I: Building Alternatives for People and Planet. Center for Popular Economics: Amherst, MA.
This paper takes issue with economic discourses that present excessive greed as the central cause of economic crises. We argue that this focus on greed as the catalyst (when harnessed “appropriately”) or the enemy of social order keeps the public debate from deliberating on the particular modes of enjoyment (jouissance) which both shore up and destabilize the dynamics of production, appropriation, distribution and consumption under capitalism. We produce an analysis of the latest crisis of US capitalism that steers away not only from the theoretical humanist categories like "greed", but also from the residual reproductionism that continues to silently inform certain Lacanian analyses.
Özselçuk, C. and Madra, Y. M. 2010. Enjoyment as an Economic Factor: Reading Marx with Lacan, Subjectivity 3(3), 323–347.
This article examines the force of affect in collective action transforming the economy. I draw on my experience at the 2005 World Social Forum to illustrate the operation of affect in collective action.
Roelvink, G. Forthcoming. Collective action and the politics of affect, Emotion, Space and Society.
This article draws on the work of Bruno Latour and Eve Sedgwick to examine the ways in which two documentary films are broadening the horizons of economy.
Roelvink, G. 2009. Broadening the horizons of economy. Jouranl of Cultural Economy 2(3), 325-344.
This article discusses the power of telling different economic stories, and making connections between diverse initiatives, in the work of imagining and enacting more just and joyful community economies.
Miller, E. 2007. Independence from the Corporate Economy, Yes! Magazine Winter Issue.
This review artilce asks, how is it that Elyachar’s book, Markets of Dispossession, is able to contribute both to critical Marxist research documenting and analysing neoliberalism and also to a post-structural performative approach to market networks?
Roelvink, G. 2007. Review article: performing the market, Social Identities 13(1), 125-133.
The first paper published during my PhD studies, this article explores how the movement to obtain citizenship rights for highland minorities in Thailand is carefully engaging with dominant discourses of ‘Thai-ness’ in ways that open up the incompleteness of Thai state hegemony.
McKinnon, K. (2005) “(Im)Mobilisation and Hegemony: ‘Hill Tribe’ Subjects and the ‘Thai’ State”, The Journal of Social and Cultural Geography, 6 (1): 31-46
Discussion of the history and concept of "solidarity economy" and possible implementations in the U.S. context.
Miller, E. 2006. Other Economies Are Possible: Organizing Toward an Economy of Cooperation and Solidarity, Dollars and Sense 266(July/August).
An orthodoxy of ‘the local’: post-colonialism, participation and professionalism in northern Thailand
The emergence of a participatory orthodoxy in the development industry has had enormous positive impact, however discourses of participation are also being used in surprisingly political ways. This paper explores how a ‘pro-local’ discourse amongst development professionals in northern Thailand is being deployed in ways that undermine the goals of empowerment and emancipation that are central to the aims of participatory approaches.
McKinnon, K. (2006) “An orthodoxy of ‘the local’: post-colonialism, participation and professionalism in northern Thailand”, The Geographical Journal, 172 (1): 22-34
Politics and professionalism in community development: examining intervention in the highlands of northern Thailand
This paper offers a synopsis of the key findings of my PhD Thesis which explored the politics of development practice and theories of postdevelopment. Drawing on a series of case studies from northern Thailand, I argue that development is always political, whether it is being shaped by a politics of emancipation or the international geopolitical concerns of the day. Thus what is required in development practice is a much more aware engagement with the political dynamics at play.
McKinnon, K. (2005) “Politics and professionalism in community development: examining intervention in the highlands of northern Thailand” Centre for Indigenous Governance and Development Working Paper Series, December.
A pamphlet discussing the concept of "solidarity economy" as a tool for linking and strengthening emerging networks of cooperative economic projects. Written for use in community and popular education contexts.
Miller, E. 2005. Solidarity Economics: Building Other Economies from the Bottom-Up and the Inside-Out, Greene, ME: JED Collective.