The GlobeLecture is a series of lectures held several times a semester in which outstanding researchers discuss global change, transnational interdependencies and regional transformations. It is organised by the Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics in cooperation with partners inside and outside Leipzig University. This time, together with the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, we welcome Peter North, Professor of Alternative Economies at the University of Liverpool, UK.
with Prof. Peter North (Liverpool)
Concerns about the rise of right wing forms of populism across Europe (consider Brexit, Law and Justice in Poland, AfD in Germany) have led to concerns that neoliberal business-as-usual has failed to meet the needs of those who feel ‘left behind’, or at least disrespected, by those with a liberal commitment to globalisation and open economies. Liberalism is the ‘light that has failed’. Yet 34 years after the fall of what was called ‘actually-existing socialism’, and despite the brief upwelling of alternatives associated the democratic movements of 1989 in places like Leipzig, there seems to be no convincing counter narrative. Geographers associated with the ‘diverse economies’ school first advanced by JK Gibson-Graham, and advocates of social and solidarity economies, have posited a more hopeful stance which focusses on developing ways that we can live well, in place, in the Anthropocene. Yet for critics, this social economy has been progressively neoliberalised (in the UK) while for others it falls into a space that looks too much like a discredited socialism – perhaps being neither state nor market, the worst of both worlds. In this talk I will discuss my work on social and solidarity economies in the UK and East and Central Europe and invite discussion about a more hopeful politics for places feeling that they have still been ‘left behind’ which perhaps owes more to diverse and alternative conceptions of entrepreneurialism than either free markets of state socialism.
Peter North is Professor of Alternative Economies at the University of Liverpool, UK. He gained his BA in History and Politics in 1984, his MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford (1993) and his PhD from the School for Advanced Urban Studies at the University of Bristol (1997). His current research focuses on social and solidarity economies as tools for constructing and rethinking alternative geographies of money, entrepreneurship, and livelihoods. His recent research focus is on these ideas in contemporary Poland. He has also researched and published on low carbon transitions at the city and community level, especially processes of policy formation and partnership working between the public, private and community sectors around strategies for local economic development within an overall framework of resource constraint, climate change and economic crisis. He contrasts this with a focus on more radical politics of climate change, especially ecologically-focused social movements engaged in struggles about the implications of anthropogenic climate change and resource constraints for both humans and the wider ecosystems upon which we depend. In this way he is interested both in how we might challenge problematic practices, and develop better ways to live ‘well’.