Doctoral hat in the snow

Thesis defence in the University of Oulu 30.3.2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Doctoral Candidate

MSc Tuomo Alhojärvi

Faculty and research unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Field of study

Geography

Date and time of the thesis defence

30.3.2021 12:15

Place of the thesis defence

Remote access: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/66958268427

Topic of the dissertation

For Postcapitalist Studies: Inheriting Futures of Space and Economy

Opponent

Senior Lecturer Mitch Rose, Aberystwyth University

Custos

Professor Anssi Paasi, Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu

Postcapitalist studies tackles inherited problems of economic geography

Increasingly destructive global crises demand the questioning of economic knowledge and politics as well as the creation of more sustainable economies. Recent years have seen a surge of envisions, practices and analyses concerning economies that come after capitalism. Postcapitalism and a utopian imagination have emerged as key categories of activism and research.

Alternative economies are often portrayed as initiatives set towards a reality after capitalism. What has often received less attention is how such alternatives carry on problematic legacies within: how they reproduce – and not only transform – inherited restrictions in their understanding and practicing of economies. The post-prefix of postcapitalism has largely been treated as a given. The post-prefix has represented a rupture and a task of unlearning compared to capitalism.

This study resists such ruptures in order to practice a form of self-critique emerging from within alternative economies approaches. It asks how inherited problems live on in economic alternatives, and how they can be identified and worked with. These concern, for example, the limitations and exclusions of economic discourse, how the work and livelihoods of different groups is valued in political economy, and how the power relations of global economy are treated as pertaining (or not) to political decision-making. The study concerns how different restrictions of imagination and practice are reproduced in the understanding of alternative economies.

The thesis studies problematic legacies through the work of trailblazing feminist economic geographers J.K. Gibson-Graham (Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson). Gibson-Graham’s framework of diverse economies offers a supportive and experimental method for studying and practicing economies otherwise. It casts off taken-for-granted truths and power relations often related to “the economy”. Instead, a heterogeneous economic landscape of interdependent agency opens up. Economy becomes a space for democratic involvement.

This research maps out different potentials in Gibson-Graham’s work but also its reproduction of certain inherited burdens and blind spots. Philosopher Jacques Derrida helps in shedding light on and challenging Gibson-Graham. Derrida’s deconstructive approach strives for close reading and vigilant (self-)critique, as well as for the amplification of promises hiding within inherited troubles. Through Derrida, the inheritedness of our conception of spatial economies and the intertwining of historical promises and perils become key questions of the diverse economies framework.

This doctoral thesis in Human Geography develops a new approach for the use of those who envision and realise societal transformations. It underlines the need to accompany the work of concrete transformations with a critical grasp of inherited burdens. Sustainable economic changes demand the processing of received problematics. Postcapitalist studies is a name for this task.

Dissertation

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Last updated: 29.3.2021