The Diversity We Are Given: Community Economies and the Promise of Bataille

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For over 20 years J K Gibson‐Graham and the Community Economies Collective have endeavoured to reveal the diversity of economic practice already operative in our so‐called capitalist world. The aim of this paper is to further this ambition by illuminating an occlusion in Gibson‐Graham's own political vision. It argues that diversity, in Gibson‐Graham's thought, is primarily conceptualised as something produced. Drawing upon the work of George Bataille, this paper conceptualises the economy as a superlative and prodigal system of energy exchange that, by definition, is over‐productive and wasteful. In this framing, diversity is not the result of positive relations but emerges from the prolific nature of the general economy. The idea is developed through a discussion of the Detroit urban farming movement. Specifically it argues that the inefficient, redundant and wasteful nature of urban farming is an appropriation of potentialities resident within the general economy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-333
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Early online date04 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019


  • diverse economies
  • community economies
  • JK Gibson-Graham
  • Bataille
  • Detroit
  • resilience


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