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Introduction An Economic Politics for OurTimes Kevin St. Martin, Gerda Roelvink, and J. K. Gibson-­ Graham The Economy as a Site of Difference While there is no doubt that “the Economy” is a keyword of contemporary life, its commonly accepted meaning is increasingly up for grabs as national governments attempt to stabilize it, social movements try to occupy it, business interests seek to grow it, environmental groups pointedly vilify it, and households feel beholden to it. For those of us interested in building “other worlds,” what constitutes the economy is a contested terrain, as is the way we see it working to enable or constrain life. The task of reclaiming and reshaping our economies is central to any project of societal transformation . This book, Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Econo­mies, offers a distinctive approach to rethinking economy that is inspired by the “diverse economies” research agenda pioneered by J. K. Gibson-­ Graham, and it is in conversation with other contemporary projects that are reconfiguring “the Economy” as an effect of various kinds of performativity. A radical rethinking of economy is increasingly happening in both academic and activist circles. Within this milieu “performing diverse economies ” signals not only the economy rethought as a site of difference, but also the political and strategic implications of performing economic diversity through our research with both human and nonhuman others. “Diverse economies” is the ontological ground upon which we can begin to ethically explore the choices we make to perform the economy and its future as either a singular inevitability or a field with a variety of potentials that is open to experimentation. More than just an analytical frame, then, diverse economies suggests a research program that is always already an intentional intervention into making other worlds possible (Gibson-­ Graham 2008, 630n4). 1 Roelvink.indd 1 16/01/2015 10:41:31 AM 2 • KEVIN ST. MARTIN, GERDA ROELVINK, AND J. K. GIBSON-­GRAHAM Making Other Worlds Possible presents a wide range of studies that have taken to heart what it means to see “the Economy” as diverse in all sites and at all scales. Various chapters show how diverse economies research is intertwined with other projects that are rethinking commonsense keywords that are similarly up for grabs—­ nature, markets, desire, and the human. Importantly, this book outlines various ways that researchers are assembling and enacting economies differently, in ways that privilege ethical negotiation and a politics of possibility. As such, it firmly establishes a “tradition ” of diverse economies research. A Genealogy of the Diverse Economies Research Program That the diverse economies research program is so proliferative is tribute to the creative and practically relevant thinking that Katherine Gibson and the late Julie Graham forged together as J. K. Gibson-­ Graham.1 Their rethinking of the identity of the economy as diverse emerged from intellectual engagements both within their disciplinary homes of economic geography and Marxian political economy, and outside these supportive but nevertheless restricted environments. Gibson-­ Graham’s playful “think­­ ing around” brought her into contact with feminism, poststructuralism, queer theory, and antiessentialist Marxism, and this expansionary embrace, together with concrete engagements with communities and movements in the United States, Australia, and Asia confronting the unevenness and injustices of economic transformation, produced an eclectic mix that shaped up as a radical project of undoing economic orthodoxy. In The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy Gibson-­ Graham worked to banish the dominant representation of the “capitalist” economy and wrote of discovering and creating a “world of economic difference” (1996, 3). This gesture toward economic difference offered little more than an intellectual scaffolding, comprising noncapitalist as well as capitalist class processes (18),2 noncommodity production , and nonmarket exchange (244). Gibson-­ Graham admitted that it was a hard task to leave behind capitalism, “a creature larger than life and twice as exciting, and enter into a starveling’s embrace” (20), that of a diverse economy, or what now might be called a more-­ than-­ capitalist economy (Henderson 2013). Despite the challenge of addressing the insufficiency of representations of noncapitalism, however, there has been an efflorescence of scholarship not only by Gibson-­Graham and her students, Roelvink.indd 2 16/01/2015 10:41:31 AM INTRODUCTION • 3 but also by a growing number of researchers around the world. In most chapters of this collection the practice of reading for economic difference is core to the methodological approach adopted. For many in the late 1990s Gibson-­ Graham appeared to...


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