10th Annual E. L. Wheelright Lecture: Katherine Gibson

Event Date: 
26 October 2017
Event Type: 
Public Forum
Event Location: 
Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney
Event Time: 
5.15 p.m. for 6.00 p.m.
Event Cost: 
Free
Manufacturing the future: cultures of production for the Anthropocene

Since its heyday when 30 per cent of the workforce was employed in manufacturing, today only 8 per cent are employed in the sector and union membership has sunk to an all-time low of just over 12 per cent. Today, the prognosis of decline has intensified with recent plant closures in the foreign owned automotive industry and the shedding of 200,000 jobs (or 20 per cent of the manufacturing workforce) between 2008 and 2015. A frightening vision looms of a hollowed out Australian economy with an almost absent manufacturing sector. Yet, there is strong popular support for maintaining and strengthening a manufacturing base in this country and, according to 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, 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?  She will present initial findings from her qualitative research with colleagues at Western Sydney University and the University of Newcastle on a range of innovative manufacturing enterprises. This project is exploring whether there are businesses in Australia that genuinely sustain equitable communities and healthy ecologies while remaining financially viable.

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. Prior to joining Western Sydney University in 2009, Professor Gibson held positions as Professor and Head of the Department of Human Geography in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University (1999-2008) and Director of Women’s Studies at Monash University (1992-1995). 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.  Her most recent book, co-edited with Gerda Roelvink and Kevin St. Martin, is entitled Making other worlds possible: performing diverse economies (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

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