Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Eliza Reilly - Introduction

Session: Product Networks and Community Economies


I am Eliza Reilly, the Director of the Franklin and Marshall Center for the Liberal Arts and Society (CLAS). We are very proud and pleased to be a co-sponsor of this remarkable forum and terrific event. I’m here to introduce Julie Graham, Linda Aleci, and Catherine Shea. Julie Graham is a Professor of Geography at the University of Massachusetts, and with her collaborator, Katherine Gibson, she is the author of The End of Capitalism as We Knew It: A Feminist Critique of Political Economy, and the editor of a collection which is outside right now on the book table, Trading Industries, Trading Regions. Her research and teaching radically challenge the deeply held and constantly reiterated assumption that capitalism, both in its more traditional, and its new global variance is both necessary and natural, or that it is the only system that does or could organize our economic life and activity. It’s not surprising that her departure point--it’s not surprising to me, actually, as a historian--that her departure point for this radical thinking of economic life is feminist and post-structuralist theory and research methods. These are both approaches that enlarge our understanding of the differences, particularly the idea of difference, the contradictions, and the possibilities that percolate outside and below the dominant discourse. These methods also make us more aware of the opportunities that are emerging within a rapidly changing capitalist system. Prof. Graham’s latest research examines alternative economic activities and initiatives and focuses specifically on non-capitalist sites and practices in the US and Australia, as well as on the politics of distribution and redistribution at the community level. In recognition of the fact that one cannot create what one cannot first imagine, Prof. Graham’s work helps us to both recognize and understand the non-capitalism that’s embedded in and woven throughout the capitalist enterprise therefore acting as a spur to our imagination, our economic imagination, as well as a spur to our agency as economic stewards of our community.

Linda Aleci is a historian from Princeton University and the University of London, and she’s held post-graduate fellowships at Harvard University and Oxford University. Her research areas include the shaping of communities by place-based cultural and economic systems. She’s a co-founder of the local economy center with Sean Flaherty and Antonio Callari, and with whom she teaches courses on urbanism and public policy as part of the college’s foundation offerings part of our general education curriculum. She’s also begun to develop courses on communities and food systems as part of F&M’s public policy program. Although Linda has served occasionally as a planning consultant to various US farmer’s markets and regional preservation initiatives, her local work has focused for almost a decade on the Lancaster Central Market. She’s co-founder and coordinator of Friends of the Central Market, and if anybody’s been to Central Market, you know the stands and the advertisements for Friends of the Central Market, on whose behalf she directs their historical policy initiatives, including documentation projects for the Library of Congress, and continuing research on the Central Market and Lancaster’s food systems. On a personal note, I think Linda is one of the most successful and effective lobbyists for Lancaster city. And I think that as one of her most fortunate victims, I think I wouldn’t be living here if I hadn’t met Linda three years ago.

Katherine Shea is a 2004 graduate of F&M, with a degree in social psychology and economic development. I got to know Katherine, or Kash as we call her here, as the President of Students Committed to Social Change. She was a campus leader, an extraordinary campus leader--and one of the bad things about being a faculty member is that every four years these people leave, they just go off and leave. But Katherine didn’t entirely leave us. She is now a community marketing analyst for Empower Partners, which is a new company that discovers business opportunities within distressed communities. So, I will turn the floor over to our three speakers.