Your Money or Your Life: Feminist Perspectives on Economy
Edited by Bonnie Fortune and Lise Skou
We are not a capitalist society on earth. We are mutual aid societies ravaged by capitalism.
– Rebecca Solnit
This series of short essays presents research, ideas, and proposals from four scholars and artists on contemporary life lived in the throes of global capitalism. The four women authors are responsible for creative opinions and approaches as to how we, as a culture, might come to inhabit different economic realities.
We, the editors, have been significantly inspired by the work of feminist geographers, J.K. Gibson-Graham, the pen name of scholars Katherine Gibson and the late Julie Graham. This book series came out of our 2014 project, Hidden Economies: a seminar on economic possibility (www.hiddeneconomies.net) which took Gibson-Graham’s The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy (University of Minnesota Press, 2006) as its starting point. Gibson and Graham proposed that there is always already a place outside capitalism because of what they called “hidden economies,” the everyday exchanges from gift giving to theft, that exist within, behind, and next to the dominant economy. The seminar asked:
Capitalist processes shape our daily experiences but do they define them? How and where are people creating economies that ignore the dominant economic system? How do these economies–shared, exchange based, micro-local, etc.–function and what do they look like? Are they temporary or are they sustainable?
We continue this thinking with this series of publications that poke holes in the fabric of capitalism with ideas, theories, and independent trade based projects.
For the initial publication, we are reprinting Katherine Gibson’s contribution to the exhibition “Trade Show” (2013-2014) curated by Kathrin Böhm and Gavin Wade. “Trade Show” explored culturally based economic experiments and practices and different approaches to the concept of trade. Curator Kathrin Böhm contributes the second book with an essay on her project Company, a community-based economic experiment in creating a sustainable drinks industry on the outskirts of London. Marxist-feminist scholar, Kathi Weeks discusses the precarity of waged labor in the third book in the series, with her article “The Problems with Work.” Artist, Kate Rich’s text on Feral Trade, her ongoing hand-delivered grocery business, which trades goods over social networks concludes the series.
Please enjoy, and if you share your book with a friend be sure you trade her for something else.
P.S. Coincidentally, they all of the authors are named Katherine.
Booklet # 1, published October 2016.
Economic Meltdown, or what an iceberg can tell us about the economy
by Katherine Gibson
Do you feel part of the economy? That thing that we are told grows or stagnates? That thing that is monitored by financial analysts (our modern day sooth-sayers) who interpret fluctuations in interest rates, share prices, trade balances and investment patterns, and take up more time on the nightly TV news than the weather report? The economy, as we have come to know it, is presented as a machine that dictates our lives—it enrolls us as employees and employers, as consumers, as property owners, as investors, and tells us what is and is not contributing to the economic bottom line. It churns up people and spits them out when their wages rise too high. It ‘develops’ by accessing cheap resources, ignoring the environmental consequences of depletion and degradation. This machineeconomy is seen to operate best when left to its own devices— though of course governments are frequently called in to repair this part, or regulate that, or bail out some large institution or other. In this vision we are not part of the economy, the economy is something that does things to us…
Booklet # 2, published October 2016.
The Problems with Work
By Kathi Weeks
Despite my use of the singular in the title, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries (2011) explores several problems with work. My focus is not so much on the difficulties of this or that job but on the failures of the system of waged work together with the values and ways of life that support and are produced by it. Some of these problems fit under three general headings: underwork, overwork, and non-work…
Booklet # 3, published October 2016.
Trade as Public Realm/Economy as Public Space
By Kathrin Böhm
My involvement with art and its relation to economy begins with my interest in public space. Public space is where we articulate and offer ideas and goods in order to pass them on through negotiation and agreements over value. I see economy as a public space where we meet to go through these negotiations and exchanges. It is a public which we shape through how we produce, trade and invest. My decision to become an artist was about being able to negotiate ideas and values in public without having to represent a particular ideology or profession. In my work, I focus on everyday socio-physical spaces and how to make or keep them complex, multi-functional, and multi-cultural – the opposite of mono-cultural. Cultural work, for me, is to have public action and discussion about possible realities for the world in which we live.
Booklet # 4, published October 2016:
The Ecology of Supply
By Kate Rich / Feral Trade
Feral Trade is a grocery business, art endeavor, and long range economic experiment trading goods over social networks and outside commercial systems. The word ‘feral’ describes a state which is wilfully wild, or street wild (s a pigeon), as opposed to the more romantic interpretation of prairie wild, or tundra wild (as in eagle or wolf). In terms of trade, this moves away from folkloric (re)vision of the silk-road merchant towards a trade operation run in a contemporary urban habitat. Goods are dispatched worldwide in the spare baggage space of friends, colleagues, and passing acquaintances, harnessing the surplus freight potential of existing movements. A social protocol run over time and with no tangible assets, Feral Trade materialises an underground freight network at least as robust and reliable as FedEx, UPS, or DHL.