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Stephanides, P. (2015). 'Alternative currencies: A non-capitalist monetary Utopia in the making?' Talk to be given at the 'Alternative experiments: Spaces of Learning and innovation at the grassroots' session of t

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Stephanides, P. (2015). 'Alternative currencies: A non-capitalist monetary Utopia in the making?' Talk to be given at the 'Alternative experiments: Spaces of Learning and innovation at the grassroots' session of the 2015 RGS-IBG
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  RGS 2015  –  Alternative experiments: Spaces of Learning and innovation at the grassroots Alternative currencies: A non-capitalist monetary Utopia in the making? Phedeas Stephanides (PhD candidate; Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) Research Group, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK)  Abstract: In the midst of an economic crisis granting the opportunity to question and reorganise monetary activity (Dodd 2014), this paper builds on a non-abolitionist line of thought claiming that a non-capitalist Utopia can materialise through radically transformed money (cf. Fromm 1976). Accordingly, and on the basis of theorisation on proliferative non-capitalism (cf. Gibson-Graham 2006; Holloway 2010), the paper critically examines post-recession alternative currencies as spaces where people experiment and exchange despite yet beyond capitalism. In aiming to broaden the debate on how these are made and develop, the paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of three alternative currencies developed with non-capitalist aspirations in mind in recession-laden Greece. Collectively, these findings highlight that these local experiments develop through messy everyday practices of building a non-capitalist future in the present. Amongst others, this involves: a) ongoing negotiations of heterogeneous ideologies between members who are variably committed to the aspiration for a non-capitalist Utopia, b) the constant co-shaping of collective action repertoires by both member values and a need for pragmatic reworking in light of capitalist pressures and project failures, and c) a struggle to carry-out common everyday practices outside the capitalist market. It is argued that it is through this everyday experimentation and the incessant contestation of the “alternativity” of these currencies that the alternative economy becomes accessible, gains impetus and develops. Bearing these findings in mind, the paper concludes with recommendations on how we should think of and support the development and potential of alternative currencies. Keywords:  alternative currencies; capitalism; proliferative non-capitalism; recession References: Dodd, N. (2014). The Social Life of Money. Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press. Fromm, E. (1976). To Have or to Be. New York: Harper and Row. Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2006). A Postcapitalist Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Holloway, J. (2010). Crack Capitalism. New York: Pluto Press.
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