On September 14, 2013 Katherine Gibson, appeared at the Patricia Theatre to discuss her new book, Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide to Transforming our Communities. The presentation took the form of a ‘conversation’, in which Katherine responded to questions from Janet Newbury, and then from members of the audience.

Poster for Katherine Gibson event

Katherine Gibson is Professorial Fellow in the Institute of Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney. She is a co-founder of the Community Economies Collective which is an international network of researchers interested in building ethical economies for the future. An economic geographer by training, 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. In 2008 she made a 50-minute film on social enterprise development as a local development strategy in the Philippines. Her books with the late Julie Graham, published under the authorship of J.K. Gibson-Graham, include The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy and A Postcapitalist Politics. They enjoy an international readership and have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Turkish and Korean. Her most recent book co-authored with Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy is entitled Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Communities and is published by University of Minnesota Press in 2013.

This most recent book was the topic of her talk in Powell River, and unlike the others is written for a popular audience rather than an academic one.  The intention is to demystify the notion of economy, and help us all to recognize that we co-create the economy by the ways we live our lives.  This means, of course, that by engaging differently with each other and the material world, we can create a different kind of economy.

The book focuses on 5 key areas in which this reframing (and in turn, different action) can take place:  work, business, the market, property, and finance.  It includes tools, thinking exercises, and concrete examples from around the world that can help us all understand how we as citizens can participate in taking back the economy.  Katherine speaks deliberately about this work as ethical activity, meaning that for an economy to be functional, equitable, and sustainable, decision-making around these matters must include reflection on our responsibilities to both human and non-human others.

Her talk in Powell River was timely, as we are currently facing many of these decisions in both our personal lives and on a societal level.  It was followed shortly after by a public conversation that took place as part of a province-wide initiative through Simon Fraser University in which economic development was the central focus, and her ideas informed this discussion at our local level.

You can hear Katherine Gibson’s presentation, or download it as an MP3 file, here.