Tue. May 28th, 2024

Common Alternatives

Creating Futures Beyond Capital and Carbon

10th Anniversary Wheelwright Lecture: Manufacturing the Future: Cultures of Production for the Anthropocene    

3 min read


About the lecture

Debates about the future of manufacturing in Australia return to prominence every few years, prompted by the latest downturn in employment or closure of a plant. The overarching narrative of change is one of decline. Since the heyday of protectionism when 30% of the workforce was employed in manufacturing, today only 8% are employed in the sector and union membership has sunk to an all-time low of just over 12%.

The prognosis of decline has intensified with recent plant closures in the foreign owned automotive industry and the shedding of 20 per cent of the manufacturing workforce between 2008 and 2015. Yet, there is strong popular support for maintaining and strengthening a manufacturing base in this country and, according to the promos for the 2017 National Manufacturing Summit, there are signs that manufacturing  industry in Australia may be ‘turning a corner’.

Clearly manufacturing is far from dead, but the apparent invisibility of a buoyant manufacturing culture is worrisome. In this lecture Professor Katherine Gibson will approach the issue of a manufacturing future for Australia by asking: what kinds of manufacturing cultures might be up to the challenges of the Anthropocene? Professor Gibson will present initial findings from qualitative research she is conducting with colleagues at Western Sydney University and the University of Newcastle, on a range of innovative manufacturing enterprises, and whether there are businesses in Australia that genuinely sustain equitable communities and healthy ecologies while remaining financially viable. The research is framed by the diverse economies research agenda which opens analysis to the diversity of ways of producing and distributing new wealth and seeks to displace the primacy of an abstracted and capitalocentric model of enterprise behavior.

About the speaker

Professor Katherine Gibson is internationally known for her research on rethinking economies as sites of ethical action. She trained as a human geographer with expertise in political economy and, with her collaborator for over 30 years, the late Professor Julie Graham, developed a distinctive approach to economic geography drawing on feminism, post-structuralism and action research. The diverse economies research program they initiated has become a vibrant sub-field of study within the social sciences. In the late 1990s the collective authorial voice of J.K. Gibson-Graham led the critique of capitalocentric thinking that was blocking the emergence of economic possibility. The end of capitalism (as we knew it): a feminist critique of political economy published in 1996, was republished in 2006 with a new Introduction and named a Classic in Human Geography by the leading journal Progress in Human Geography in 2011. Gibson-Graham’s work on a post-capitalist economic politics has had a widespread readership among those interested in economic alternatives and has been translated into Chinese, South Korean, Turkish, Spanish and French.

Thursday, 26 October 2017   
5:15pm: pre-lecture refreshments in the foyer
6.00 pm: lecture begins
7.30 lecture finishes: then drinks/snacks available afterwards at Hermann’s bar     
Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney]

The event is free but RSVP is requested       
Please RSVP your attendance through here by 19 October.
RSVP is not a condition for entry     

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