J.K. Gibson-Graham (Australia-International Medal) Citation

Conferred Wollongong, July 2011

Nomination Statement for J.K. Gibson-Graham for the IAG Australia-International Medal

What are we to make of J.K. Gibson-Graham? They have been described as the "Pollyannas" of geography (Lamer, 2010), and their impact on the discipline compared to the "seismic impact ... of Elvis Presley" on post-war Britain (Leyshon, 2010: 120). They have self-identified as "theory sluts" and "self-help junkies" (Gibson-Graham, 2006: xi).

Are they just nutters on the fringe of geography? We think not. J.K. Gibson-Graham may be unconventional-the bad girls of geography-but their theoretically­ sophisticated feminist poststructuralist economic geography has transformed debates not just in economic geography but across the discipline-and beyond.

In many respects this closest of collaborations between Katherine Gibson from Australia and Julie Graham from the US seems exactly the type of relationship that the IAG Australia-International Medal is designed to recognise. From their initial meeting, in the mid-1970s, in the Geography doctoral program at Clark University in Massachusetts, to the birth of single persona in 1992, the partnership between Katherine Gibson and Julie Graham has developed into "one of geography's longest­ standing and most intellectually influential collaborations" (Larner, 2010).

In economic geography, J.K. Gibson-Graham introduced the concept of 'capitalocentrism' (drawing from insights into phallocentrism from the Australian feminist Liz Grosz and the French feminist Irigaray). This has contiibuted to a fundamental rethinking of the terms of political economic inquiry and debate: J.K. has made it impossible to think and talk of "a capitalist economy" or "a capitalist market". This argument was laid out in The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy, published in 1996 by Blackwell and republished in 2006 by the University of Minnesota Press (with a new introduction). In 2010, The End featured in Progress in Human Geography's series, Classics in Human Geography Revisited (with commentaries by Roger Lee and Andrew Leyshon, and an author's response). Roger Lee opened his commentary with the statement "Even the title is a classic" (117). The book has been translated into Portuguese (trans. Jorges Menezes, 1998) and Chinese (trans. Dongsheng Chen, 2001) and is currently being translated into Spanish. Demonstrating the reach of this book well beyond geography and the academy itself, extracts of Chapter 5 ('The Economy, Stupid!') accompanied Sarah Browne's invited art installation, which represented Ireland at the 2009 Venice Biennale (Gibson-Graham 2010, p.126).

In an era where academic quality is increasingly judged by journal ranking and numbers of citations, J.K.'s work is without doubt first-rate. J.K.'s opus includes a second major book A Postcapitalist Politics (published by University of Minnesota Press in 2006). True to its promise, A Postcapitalist Politics is quickly becoming a classic. A Critic Meets Author session on the book at the 2008 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting has been subsequently published in the interdisciplinary journal Emotion, Space and Society (Scholars Choice, 2010).

Colleagues report needing two copies of both The End of Capitalism and A Postcapitalist Politics as the first copy quickly becomes so dog-eared. J.K.has also published two edited collections with Marxian economists, Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff; has published in leading geography and interdisciplinary journals; and has been invited to present keynote lectures at international events in geography and beyond (see Selected Publications and Selected Keynote Lectures, below).

Perhaps J.K.'s most important contribution to the advancement of geography worldwide is her exemplary model of thinking-doing and collaborating. J.K. has introduced a tool box of techniques for not just imagining but also enacting new possibilities, techniques that include 'reading for absence and difference', 'weak theory',  'performativity' and  'cross-appropriation'. In  the area of economic geography, J.K. uses these techniques to conceptualise the economy in completely new ways-as a diverse economy characterised by a multitude of transactions, labour relations and enterprise types; and as a community economy, an ethical space where economic interdependence is recognised and negotiated, and ethical choices acted on. The concepts of the diverse and the community economy have been taken up and used to guide academic and activist work in diverse locations around the globe.

Outside of economic geography, J.K.'s approach to thinking-doing has changed the nature of academic work. In the words of one colleague she has changed debate "from criticism, complaint and hopelessness to hope, optimism and creativity". She demonstrates how rather than just describing things, academic research helps to create the world and  therefore  can-and  should-change  things. This approach  has motivated and inspired a new generation of geographers. But this is not a naive view of the change-making process, it is underpinned by the most rigorous of academic practices. As one young scholar has commented "J.K. pushes me sometimes to the point where my brain hurts ... she inspires those ofus early in our career to become better writers, better thinkers and to perform the world that we wish to inhabit in our research."

J.K.'s collaborative approach has also provided a model for joint academic work. She shows us the productive and creative intellectual advances that are possible when we put aside concerns and quibbles about individual ownership and contribution, and commit ourselves to a shared project of knowledge-making in the service of changing worlds. This collaborative approach has been used to work with academic colleagues and students. One outcome has been the Community Economies Collective, a collaborative research group of over 25 scholars based mainly Australia and the US who, inspired by the J.K. G.G. persona, have begun to publish as the Community Economies Collective (e.g. Community Economies Collective 2001, and Community Economies Collective and Gibson 2009). Not limiting their community to scholars directly engaging with their work, J.K. has also created the Diverse Economies Network of over 110 members in various locations around the world. With other members of the Community Economies Collective, J.K. has also worked in hybrid research groups that involve community members as active research collaborators (e.g. in the Latrobe Valley in Australia, the Pioneer Valley in the US, and Jagna municipality in the island province of Bohol, Philippines).

This collaborative approach also extends to her critics-and there have been plenty! She has shown how criticism can be responded to in respectful and productive ways by looking for connections and potential openings rather than looking for disjunctures that close down possibilities and create ill-feeling, distrust and distance. She has enlisted her critics as collaborators who can help deepen and extend her project (perhaps best exemplified in the new introduction to the 2006 second edition of The End of Capitalism).

Along with many colleagues who contributed to this nomination (listed on the signature page), we feel that the time is right to acknowledge and celebrate J.K. Gibson-Graham's contribution to geography with the IAG Australia-International Medal. 'Australian geography' has benefited enormously from, and arguably been transformed by, J.K.'s work. She has shown us how to value in new ways the everyday and often overlooked geographies in Australia and around the world and has generously taken Australian geographers along with her for the ride. As a colleague puts it in response to the question, 'What has it meant for Australian geography to have in its midst this partnership?': "quite simply it has meant that Australian geography has been a part of one of the most radical and discipline-shaking set of intellectual interventions of contemporary times."


Classics in Human Geography Revisited (2010) Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 117-127.

Community Economies Collective (2001) Imagining and Enacting Noncapitalist Futures. Socialist Review 28 (3+4): 93-135.

Community Economies Collective and Gibson, K. (2009) Building Community­ Based Social Enterprises in the Philippines: Diverse Development Pathways. In A. Amin (ed.). The Social Economy: International Perspectives on Economic Solidarity, Zed Press, London: 116-138.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006) A Postcapitalist Politics, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2010) Authors Response. Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 123-127.

Lamer, W. (2010, forthcoming) J.K. Gibson-Graham. In R. Kitchin, P. Hubbard and G. Valentine (eds.) Key Thinkers on Space and Place. Blackwell, Oxford.

Lee, R. (2010) Commentary 1. Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 117-120.

Leyshon, A. (2010) Commentary 2. Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 120-123.

Scholars Choice: J.K. Gibson-Graham's A Postcapitalist Politics (2006): A Conversation (2008) Emotion, Space and Society 1(2): 144-158.

Selected Publications


J.K. Gibson-Graham, 2006, A Postcapitalist Politics, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

J.K. Gibson-Graham, 2006, The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. 2nd edition, with a new introduction. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

J.K Gibson-Graham, S. Resnick and R. Wolff (eds.), 2001, Re/presenting Class: Essays in Postmodern Marxism, Durham N.C., Duke University Press.

J.K Gibson-Graham, S. Resnick and R. Wolff (eds.), 2000, Class and its Others, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

J.K. Gibson-Graham, 1996, The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy,
Oxford and Cambridge USA, Blackwell. (Portuguese translation O Fin do Capitalismo (Como nos o Conheciamos) 1998
by Jorges Menezes, Lisboa: Instituto Piaget; Chinese translation 2001 by Dongsheng Chen, Beijing: Social Science Academy Publications).

Chapters in Books (last 5 years)

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Roelvink, G. (2008) Social Innovation for Community Economies. In MacCallum, D., Moulaert, F., Hillier, J. and Vicari, S. (eds) Social Innovation and Territorial Development. London, Ashgate: 32-51.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2007) Surplus Possibilities: Post-Development and Community Economies.
In Ziai, A. (ed.) Exploring Post Development: Theory and Practice, Problems and Perspectives. London, Routledge: 207-235.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2007) Cultivating Subjects for a Community Economy.
In Barnes, T., Peck, J., Sheppard, E. and Tickell, A. (eds.) Politics and Practice in Economic Geography. London, Sage: 106-118.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2005) Building Community Economies: Women and the Politics of Place.
In Harcourt, W. and Escobar, A. (eds.) Women and the Politics of Place. Bloomfield Connecticut, Kumarian Press: 130-157.

Journal Articles (last 5 years)

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Roelvink, G. (2010) An Economic Ethics for the Anthropocene. Antipode 41(1): 320-346.

Roelvink, G. and Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2009) A postcapitalist politics of dwelling:
Ecological humanities and community economies in conversation. Australian Humanities Review 46: 145-158.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2008) Diverse Economies: Performative Practices for 'Other Worlds'.
Progress in Human Geography 32(5):1-20.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2008) 'Place-based globalism': A New Imaginary of Revolution. Rethinking Marxism 20(4): 659-664.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. and Cameron, J. (2007) Community enterprises: Imagining and Enacting Alternatives to Capitalism.
Special Issue on Counter Alternatives of Social Alternatives 26(1):20-25.
Republished in J. Hillier & P. Healy (eds) 2010, forthcoming) Ashgate Research Companion to Planning Theory:
Conceptual Challenges for Spatial Planning
, Ashgate, Chapter 10.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006) 'Mekan tabanli kiiresellesme': Devrim i9in yeni bir tahayyiil
'Place-based globalism': A new imaginary of revolution, Turkish translation by Hande Kesgin] Birikim: Aylik Sosyalist Kultur Dergisi 205-206: 52-55.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2006) Imagining and Enacting a Post-Capitalist Feminist Economic Politics: A response to Hester Eisenstein. Women's Studies Quarterly 34 (1&2): 72-78.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2005) Traversing the Fantasy of Sufficiency: A Response to Aguilar, Kelly, Laurie and Lawson. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 26 (2):119-126.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2005) Surplus possibilities: Post-Development and Community Economies. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 26 (1):4-26.

Gibson-Graham, J.K. (2005) Dilemmas of Theorizing Class. Rethinking Marxism 17(1): 39-4.

Selected Keynote Lectures (last S years)

Gender, Place and Culture Jan Monk Distinguished Lecture at the Association of American Geographers Conference, Washington (2010).

Author meets Critics session sponsored by the Journal Emotion, Space and Society, the Geographical Perspectives
on Women Speciality Group of the AAG, and the AAG Enrichment Funds, at the Association of American Geographers Conference, Boston (2008).

Foundations of Political Theory, Plenary Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago (2007).

Envisioning Real Utopias session, Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York (2007).

Keynote address to the Annual Meeting of the Australasian Agri-Food Research Network, University of Otago, Dunedin (2006).

Opening Keynote Address for the IGU Regional Conference, Brisbane (2006).

Annual Lecture sponsored by Progress in Human Geography at the Association of American Geographers Conference, Boston (2006)
and published in Progress in Human Geography in 2008).

Keynote address to the Conference on Contesting Capitalism: Practices and Strategies, Management Centre, University of Leicester (2005).

Keynote address to the Conference on Alternative Economic Spaces, New Political Stories, Department of Geography, University of Hull (2005).

Address to Workshop on Social Innovation, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Lille, France (2005).

Presentation at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Centre, Bellagio, Italy (2005).