Professor Katherine Gibson

Katherine is on leave from WSU in 2022 and will be based at Havard University

Profile photo of Professor Katherine Gibson.Professor Katherine Gibson is internationally known for her research on rethinking economies as sites of ethical action. She trained as a human geographer with expertise in political economy and, with her collaborator for over 30 years, the late Professor Julie Graham, developed a distinctive approach to economic geography drawing on feminism, post-structuralism and action research. The diverse economies research program they initiated has become a vibrant sub-field of study within the social sciences. In the late 1990s the collective authorial voice of J.K. Gibson-Graham led the critique of capitalocentric thinking that was blocking the emergence of economic possibility. The end of capitalism (as we knew it): a feminist critique of political economy published in 1996, was republished in 2006 with a new Introduction and named a Classic in Human Geography by the leading journal Progress in Human Geography in 2011. Gibson-Graham's work on a post-capitalist economic politics has had a widespread readership among those interested in economic alternatives and has been translated into Chinese, South Korean, Turkish, Spanish and French.

Prior to joining Western Sydney University in 2009 Professor Gibson held positions as Professor and Head of the Department of Human Geography in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University (1999-2008) and Director of Women's Studies at Monash University (1992-1995). She has directed action research projects with communities interested in alternative economic development pathways in Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. These experiences have contributed to elaboration of a distinctive 'Community Partnering Approach to Local Development' (opens in a new window). In 2008 she made a 50 minute film on social enterprise development as a local development strategy in the Philippines. Her most recent book, co-edited with Gerda Roelvink and Kevin St. Martin, is entitled Making other worlds possible: performing diverse economies (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). In 2013 she published Take back the economy: an ethical guide for transforming communities, co-authored with Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy (University of Minnesota Press).

The Community Economies Collective (opens in a new window), which Gibson-Graham established, is an ongoing collaboration between academic and community researchers and activists in Australia, North America, Europe and South East Asia. The goal of the Collective is to theorise, discuss, represent and ultimately enact new visions of economy. By making multiple forms of economic life viable options for action, the Collective aims to open the economy to ethical debate around concerns such as: the survival needs of humans and earth others; the distribution of surplus that supports wellbeing now and in the future; encountering others via just transactions; enlarging and sharing our commons; and investing in futures that sustain us all.

Katherine Gibson's current research interests include:

  • Diverse economies: documenting diverse economies in place and reformulating economic theory, including theories of capitalist development, industrial restructuring, regional development, globalisation, the enterprise, class and subjectivity, household labour and noncapitalist economic activities, social enterprises and cooperatives.
  • Rethinking urbanism in the light of feminist, postcolonial and queer theory; experimenting with postmodern planning practices.
  • Alternative community and regional economic development, regional governmentality and sustainability; developing new development pathways that care for non-human and human habitats now and into the future.


  • PhD, 1981, Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts, USA
  • MA, 1980, Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts, USA
  • BSc (Hons), 1975, University of Sydney

Awards and Recognition

  • 2018: Association of American Geographers Distinguished Scholarship Honors
  • 2012: Invited participant at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Conference on Rethinking Economy: Crisis, Value and Hope, Sintra, Portugal
  • 2012: Invited to present the Antipode Lecture at the RSG-IBG Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh on 'Take Back the Economy, Any Time, Any Place: Pedagogies for Securing Community Economies'
  • 2010: Awarded the 'Australia-International Medal' from the Institute of Australian Geographers (jointly with Julie Graham)
  • 2010: Awarded the 'Alliance to Develop Power Community Economy Award in Honor of Julie Graham' at the ADP Community Convention, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
  • 2005: Elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia
  • 2005: Collaborative Residency, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Centre, Bellagio, Italy

Selected Publications

Mellick Lopes, A, Healy, S, Power, E, Crabtree, L & Gibson, K 2019, 'Infrastructures of care: opening up “home” as commons in a hot city' (opens in a new window), Human Ecology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, pp.41-59.

Healy, S, McNeill, J, Cameron, J & Gibson K 2018, 'Pre-empting Apocalypse? Postcapitalism as an everyday politics', Australian Quarterly (opens in a new window), vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 28-33.

Gibson-Graham, JK, Cameron, J, Dombroski, K, Healy, S & Miller, E on behalf of the Community Economies Collective 2017, Cultivating community: economies: tools for building a liveable world (opens in a new window), The Next System Project.

Mathie, A, Cameron, J & Gibson K 2017, 'Asset-based and citizen-led development: using a diffracted power lens to analyse the possibilities and challenges' (opens in a new window), Progress in Development Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 54-66.

Gibson-Graham, JK 2016, '"After" area studies? Place-based knowledge for our time', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, DOI: 10.1177/0263775816656523.

Gibson-Graham, JK, Hill, A & Law, L 2016, 'Re-embedding economies in ecologies: resilience building in more than human communities', Building Research & Information, DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2016.1213059, pp. 1-14.

McKinnon, K, Carnegie, M, Gibson, K, & Rowland, C 2016, 'Gender equality and economic empowerment in the Solomon Islands and Fiji: a place-based approach', Gender, Place and Culture, vol. 23, no. 10, pp. 1376-1391. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2016.1160036.

Gibson-Graham, JK, Cameron J & Healy, S 2016, 'Commoning as postcapitalist politics', in A Amin & P Howell (eds), Releasing the commons: rethinking the futures of the commons (opens in a new window), Routledge, London, pp. 192-212.

Newbury, J & Gibson, K 2016, 'Post-industrial pathways for a "single industry resource town": a community economies approach', in I Vaccaro, K Harper & S Murray (eds), The anthropology of postindustrialism: ethnographies of disconnection (opens in a new window), Routledge, London and New York, pp.183-204.

Mellick Lopes, A, Gibson, K, Crabtree, L & Armstrong, H 2016, Cooling the commons (opens in a new window), Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University.

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Video Interview

Professor Deborah Rose interviews Professor Katherine Gibson about her new collaborative book, Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities (double click for full screen).