Tio’tia:ke | Montreal, Concordia University
auditorium H-110

Beyond capitalism?
Toward economic self-determination of communities

How do certain economic initiatives, here and around the world, contribute to the construction of post-capitalist presents and futures?

This question is at the heart of the event organized for spring 2016 by the Interdisciplinary Research Collective on Dissent [Collectif de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la contestation (CRIC)] that will bring social actors directly involved in transformative economic projects within their communities to the fore.

This event will bring together local and internationally renowned researchers with social actors from across the territories of Turtle Island today referred to as Quebec, to discuss the subject of post-capitalist economic initiatives. These initiatives have in common their foundation on radical critiques of the values and operation of the capitalist economy. They have as their objective the creation of new types of relationships—economic, social, and political—and share a special focus on the values and ethics that underlie our interdependence with each other and with nature. At the very root of these projects is the necessity of overcoming the dominant conception of capitalism as the only viable economic system so as to bring into focus the ways in which certain communities are already working, here and now, on constructing new modes of resource production, labour relations, and transactions (what we refer to as post-capitalism).

The event will take place at Concordia University in Tio’tia:ke | Montreal from the 9th to the 11th of April, 2016. It will build off of the conference “Transform/er Montreal: Disrupt and Democratize our Economy,” to be held in March 2016, by widening the scope of that discussion to include actors from a diversity of regions across the territories that are today referred to as Québec. The event also builds on the work of eminent researchers who, based on the ideas developed by J.K. Gibson-Graham, have developed the Community Economies school of thought1. The Community Economies project seeks to contribute to the emergence of a political economy that is focused on practices of economic self-determination, on the idea that “another world is possible,” and that is dedicated to post-capitalist futures. During this event, Katherine Gibson and Ethan Miller, members of the Community Economies Collective (CEC) and of the Community Economies Research Network (CERN), will: present their work at a large public conference, facilitate a training and knowledge-sharing workshop with social actors involved in economic initiatives and exchange with students and researchers during a seminar organized by the CRIC. We hope that by the end of the series of events, participants will have acquired both conceptual and practical tools in order to better understand how their economic activities are contributing to the construction of post-capitalist presents and futures.

Event Details

The conference on April 9th is free and open to the public. Its purpose is to familiarize the participants with the Community Economies school of thought and with the post-capitalist economic initiatives underway throughout the territories of Turtle Island today referred to as Quebec. It will open with a presentation by Katherine Gibson and Ethan Miller, who will provide an overview of this school of thought. The remainder of the day will be dedicated to presentations by social actors who are invited to give an overview of their own initiatives, as well as others in their region, and to reflect on the challenges they face. In order to bring participants to reflect on the transformative potential of the initiatives being presented, Katherine Gibson will intervene throughout, using conceptual and practical tools from the Community Economies school of thought.

On April 10th, social actors having presented on the 9th will get the opportunity to participate in a training and skill-sharing workshop facilitated by Katherine Gibson and Ethan Miller. This workshop aims to enable conversations as participants apply the ideas and practices developed by the Community Economies school of thought to real-life experience. Facilitated using a participatory pedagogical approach, social actors will be invited to analyse their practices using the tools put forward by the book “Take Back the Economy”. We hope that as participants share and learn from each other’s experience, they will consolidate ties and that this process will lead to the building of a network that will persist beyond the event.

Finally, on April 11th, Katherine Gibson and Ethan Miller will facilitate a seminar with researchers and student members of the CRIC. Participants will engage with scholarly writing produced by J.K. Gibson-Graham and will be invited to discuss the ideas put forth by the Community Economies school of thought. Ideas to be discussed include the concepts of diverse economy, post-capitalist politics and assemblage politics.

Taken together, these activities will allow for the emergence of stronger ties between activist-researchers and social actors involved in economic activities. They will also foster network-building between social actors who are often isolated from each other. This effort will also provide precious information on what is going on in the field which will then be used to elaborate a research project on community economies of Quebec. This project will be undertaken over the coming years by Anna Kruzynski and Rachel Sarrasin, activist-researchers affiliated with the CRIC.

1 J. K. Gibson-Graham is the pen name used by Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson. You can consult their work by visiting the website of the Community Economies Collective.