Diverse economies as an unsettlement: Adam Bledsoe, Tyler McCreary, Willie Wright, ‘Theorizing diverse economies in the context of racial capitalism’, Geoforum, 2019


Abstract: This paper engages geographic literature on diverse economies by foregrounding an analysis of racial capitalism. Prevailing conversations on diverse economies aptly point out that there exist economic formations that do not adhere to capitalist modes of production. However, these same conversations lack an explicit engagement with the ways in which establishing non-capitalist economies entails attending explicitly to the question of race. Ignoring how racialization underlies capitalism runs the risk of inadequately understanding the role that race plays in configuring alternatives to capitalist formations. Thus, the authors argue that analysis of diverse economies must explicitly attend to the fact that both capitalism and its alternatives are shaped by racial difference. After discussing prominent geographical work on diverse economies, the authors explore racial capitalism as an analytic for interrogating present-day capitalism. They argue that racial capitalism shows how the marginalization of racialized populations is a central component of capitalist reproduction. The second half of the paper draws on empirical examples from Canada and the United States to demonstrate how Black and Indigenous communities both recognize the role that their oppression plays in capital accumulation and find ways to create economic alternatives to those forms of accumulation. Specifically, the authors discuss public housing initiatives among Indigenous communities in Winnipeg and Minneapolis and the creation of urban commons by Black communities in Detroit and Jackson. By emphasizing the racialized nature of capitalism and showing how racialized communities create economic alternatives to capitalism, this paper offers a nuanced approach to discussing the possibilities of diverse economies.

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