The burgeoning literature on diverse and community economies has been relatively hopeful, exploring how people learn, enact new and reclaim other ways of meeting their needs outside of capitalist practices. For good reasons, much of this work has sought to avoid a conventional critical-leftist orientation, instead adopting what Gibson-Graham call a ‘weak theory’ approach ‘that welcomes surprise, entertains hope, makes connection, tolerates coexistence and offers care for the new’.
This commentary was invited by the special editors of this issue and is partly based on the Community Economies session that the four authors organised at the Social Movements Conference III: Resistance and Social Change in Wellington, 2016. During the session, a number of questions were asked by participants.
What might an alliance between Gibson-Graham’s concept of community economy and Laclau
and Mouffe’s concept of hegemony generate for theories and practices of everyday postcapitalist
politics? This essay theorizes a shared space between these concepts, opening up new ground for
politics. It provides an illustration of the dynamic of hegemony within a community economy
through empirical work carried out with food-sovereignty collectives in the Asturias region of
northern Spain. These collectives demonstrate economic practices that foreground our
Competing with the cartography of capitalism, undermining its power to fix resources as open to capitalist appropriation and space as enclosed, will require a cartography of the commons that makes visible community and commons processes; it will require a shift in strategy from explicating and defending existing commons to mapping spaces into which a commons future might be projected. The Buffalo Commons and a map-based project in New England fisheries link new spatial imaginaries with desires for and enactments of alternative economic initiatives.
The discourse of fisheries science and management displaces community and culture from the essential economic dynamic of fisheries. The goal of this dominant discourse is to enclose fisheries, to constitute it as within the singular and hegemonic economy of capitalism. Alternative economies, such as those based on the presence of community, are always seen as either existing before or beyond the dominant economic formation.
In this chapter we stage a conversation between two innovative and longstanding projects, (1) the multiphase European-based research project on local social innovation that is represented in this book and (2) the Community Economies project which is engaged in rethinking economy through action research in Australia, the Philippines and the US.
Faced with the daunting prospect of global warming and the apparent stalemate in the formal political sphere, this paper explores how human beings are transformed by, and transformative of, the world in which we find ourselves.