Enacting a postcapitalist politics

So it has been quite a long time since I blogged — mostly because the second half of 2015 was taken up with intense teaching and a return to fulltime work. Ironically, a lot of my research work is about how the home and domestic spaces are sites of enacting postcapitalist politics for different kinds of futures. It’s ironic, because for much of the year I don’t get to spend a lot of time there.

Now it is summer, though, and I am spending time in the garden and putting time into my children — teaching one to use the toilet, another to read, and another to kayak. I still need to work while on annual leave though — grant proposals and a paper due early next month. But the relaxed pace of work means I can catch up on all that ‘life’s work’ at home and about that has fallen by the wayside.

For a glimpse into some of this research on life’s work in other parts of the world, check out the new book chapter now available on google books: Morrow, O. and K. Dombroski (2015) ‘Enacting post-capitalist politics through the sites and practices of social reproduction’ in K. Meehan and K. Strauss (eds) Precarious Worlds: New Geographies of Social Reproduction. University of Georgia Press: Athens, GA, pp 82-98.


The pdf is also available on my academia.edu page, if you are on the site.

Here’s a taster:

In our case studies based in Xining and Boston, we showed how glimmers of possibility are produced, appropriated, and negotiated through entanglements with place. It is in these material contexts that we sketched a postcapitalist countertopography, whereby we drew these seemingly ephemeral glimmers of possibility together into a constellation of economic difference. The countertopography of life’s work in Xining and Boston drew global interconnections between seemingly disparate struggles over surplus and necessity.

What did this sort of approach help us to achieve? For one, it evoked the ubiquity of life’s work globally. While our two case studies are hardly a globally representative sample, connecting a place from the very margins of ‘the global economy’ with a place pretty close to the center is certainly one way to highlight the range of places where life’s work – and surplus and necessity – are being negotiated in ways that can potentially produce something other than capitalism. It is this approach that adds the postcapitalist descriptor to our countertopography of life’s work. A postcapitalist countertopography of life’s work is a concept that can potentially go further in this field. By enrolling Katz’s countertopographical method into a politics of possibility, we have demonstrated a way to proliferate the possibilities for different kinds of non-capitalist future, how life’s work might shape production in friendlier ways, rather than reproducing exploitation.

We were inspired to move away from the critical stance which “tends to confirm what we already know: that the world is full of devastation and oppression, and that transformation is an unlikely if not hopeless project” and towards an “open and reparative stance that refuses to know too much, that makes space for hope and possibility” (Gibson-Graham and Roelvink 2010, 324). When applied to thinking about life’s work, multiplying possibilities for producing something other than capitalism has involved, for us, moving away from a perspective where life’s work is always reflecting, reproducing and enabling capitalist domination. We have attempted to show how we might instead value “the ways in which meanings and institutions can be at loose ends with each other” where “the richest junctures weren’t the ones where everything means the same thing” (Sedgwick 1994, 5). By allowing life’s work and capitalism to be at loose ends with each other, we were able to identify the rich junctures where an ethics of care can enable negotiations around surplus and necessity, where something else can happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: