ICS Seminar Series - Katherine Gibson

Date: Thursday 4 May 2017
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EB.G.35, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Katherine Gibson

(Institute for Culture and Society)

Reading for Difference on the Ground and in the Archive: An(other) Economic Geography of Monsoon Asia for the Anthropocene


Today the collision of physical/natural dynamics with social/economic dynamics is shaking apart Enlightenment knowledge systems, forcing questions of what it means to be a responsible inhabitant on planet earth and how, indeed, to go onwards 'in a different mode of humanity' (to quote eco-feminist philosopher Val Plumwood). 'The Great Acceleration' since the 1950s of trends in key aspects of earth system health and socio-economic change marks the coming of a new geological epoch, contentiously named the Anthropocene—or the Capitalocene, or the Chthulucene. In this paper I ask how might we do geographic research in these times? I reflect on this question by drawing on feminist anti-essentialist thinking strategies developed by J.K. Gibson-Graham. I hope to show how these strategies might open up new ways of working with uncertain possibilities. I do so with reference to field research into place-based knowledges of resilience on the ground today in Monsoon Asia—a region that is disproportionately experiencing uncertain and extreme 'natural' events that signal Anthropogenic climate change. I also return to early 'area studies' scholarship of Monsoon Asia conducted in the 1950s when the engines of economic change were starting to rev, fuelled by dire predictions of population explosion and the fear of communism. I am interested in the genealogy of geographical scholarship and the institutional contexts in which it developed and was influential. I look back to see how local knowledge that was marginalised and delegitimized by two of our geographic forefathers, might be liberated today to play a role in making other worlds possible.


Katherine Gibson is a Professorial Research Fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney. She is an economic geographer with an international reputation for innovative research on economic transformation and over 30 years' experience of working with communities to build resilient economies. As J.K. Gibson-Graham, the collective authorial presence she shares with the late Julie Graham (Professor of Geography, University of Massachusetts Amherst), her books include The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy (Blackwell 1996) and A Postcapitalist Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2006). Her most recent books are Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities, co-authored with Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Economies, co-edited with Gerda Roelvink and Kevin St Martin (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) and Manifesto For Living in the Anthropocene, co-edited with Deborah Bird Rose and Ruth Fincher (Punctum Press, 2015).