Date of Degree

2-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Earth & Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Marianna Pavlovskaya

Committee Members

Celina Su

Sharryn Kasmir

Michael Menser

Subject Categories

Human Geography

Keywords

feminism, cooperation, production of space, GIS, social movements

Abstract

This is a project about how New Yorkers are sharing time, space, resources, and risks to meet their collective needs. To these practitioners the interlocking methods of collective production, use, distribution, and surplus allocation unite to form a ‘Solidarity Economy’ (SE) strengthened by values of cooperation, social justice, ecological sustainability, and mutualism. This work takes many forms, from cooperative businesses, to collective housing, to community gardens—each with their own discrete histories. One thing remains common throughout: In New York City, those who use ‘Solidarity Economy’ as a framework for their work, do so to communicate a shared social and political location, what I refer to as a ‘movement space’. This research project is about how that location is produced by the movement’s practitioners, entities, and networks in the city.

I argue that movement space is produced in five ways: first, movement space is produced as a feminized, collective form of social reproduction between its workers who ‘domesticate’ urban organizing strategies and also export the domestic forms of social reproduction into the city. Second, movement space is produced in resistance to economic crises for shared material and political goals. Third, practitioners create a movement space that is simultaneously regional and local through their sectoral and cross-sectoral membership networks. Fourth, movement space is a physical, regulated area that participants are constantly trying to make cohesive if not contiguous. Lastly, movement space is an unevenly politically regulated space, which threatens its ability to remain consistent.

Despite the distinctions, there are two themes that develop across these productions. The first is how necessary proximity is to collective work at all scales. SE networks create citywide, regional, and even global connections to channel resources and strategies back to their own, local economies. Practitioners also favor proximity, the maps they draw of the Solidarity Economy overwhelmingly identify neighborhood-based Solidarity Economy spaces, which is notable given all of the different ways SE models can exist without a physical location. Implied within ‘proximity’ is intimacy, which we see in the relationships practitioners try to create with one another, or in the shared histories of exclusion and resistance shown in their line maps. This ‘closeness’ is central to how practitioners theorize and judge their own work.

The second through line is how history functions as another shared location for practitioners, who contextualize their work alongside SE organizing flashpoints regardless of whether they were present for them. Again, their maps of Solidarity Economy space imply shared history as well; they identify migration flows, particular communities, and patterns of collective exclusion. This emphasis reflects how we place ourselves in movements broadly; our participation is not just a matter of where but when. Solidarity Economy movement space is made possible by creating cooperative relationships, collective entities, and the shared history of doing each.

The production of movement space is the crux of Solidarity Economy work, not a happenstance. This project outlines just five ways its organizers in New York center that production and use geography itself as a core organizing strategy.

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