Writing collaboration

a ‘work in progress’

2c. J.K.Gibson-Graham

with one comment

…a ‘collective authorial presence’ shared by ‘longtime collaborators’ Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson, best known for their landmark (1996) book The end of capitalism (as we knew it): a feminist critique of political economy. In a (2002) editorial in Environment and planning A, the choice to write as J.K. Gibson-Graham was set against the cult of individualism in the economy of academic ideas:

Though some no doubt thought it a rather precious act, when Kathy Gibson and Julie Graham became one writing persona in The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It) (1996) they called into question the accounting procedure prevailing in the English-speaking economy of academic ideas. … Paying one’s intellectual `debts’ to myriad others is only partly achieved in the currency of citations. Yet disciplines remain fixated on citation impact as a measure of influence. But what about all those hidden, unacknowledged but often profound influences on one’s way of thinking, researching, and writing? What about those ideas and insights picked up over coffee with other faculty or in the seminar room? And, even were citation to be a sufficient register of academic influence, at what point is it possible to say that ‘my’ work is ‘mine’, knowing that it is unthinkable without the countless books, papers, and conversations that insert ‘me’ into a disciplinary and interdisciplinary `they’? … But the question remains about how best to register and account for the to-and-fro of academic influence. Where does the academic ‘individual’ begin and end?the research culture prevailing in British universities interpellates academics as sovereign actors who are forced to compete in a veritable marketplace of ideas and influence. This particular modality of identifying, recognising, and rewarding individual academic contributions is arguably corrosive of the inherent sociality of intellectual life. What economy of influence might realistically displace it? (Anon 2002, 1331-2).

In many ways, the arguments are the same as those made by and about WGSG, but with an economic twist: what they’re describing is an approach that challenges neoliberalism in academia. But the questions about the blurred edges of individual (and collective) authorship are new to us here. Where do/should citations and acknowledgements tip over into co-authorship?


Written by Ian Cook et al

September 1, 2008 at 12:07 pm

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  1. From the preface to A Postcapitalist Politics, pp. x-xi:

    Emerging from the mutuality of our relationship and especially our interdependence with others, the book is the neatly bound tip of a ramshackle iceberg. We recognize that publishing and affixing our name to this volume consigns its contributing factors to subaqueous obscurity. “Authored, authorized, and authoritative,” as Sadie Plant cautions, “a piece of writing is its own mainstream” (1997, 9). What is wondrous to contemplate is its emergence at the confluence of events, people, relationships, and things, and to watch it flow toward the pooling oceans of anonymity, to be dispersed and taken up once again in the hydrological cycle of de- and retextualization, and eventually transmuted into other streams and icebergs.
    In less watery but no less embracing terms, we might simply acknowledge our understanding that “all and everything is naturally related and interconnected” (Plant 1997, 11; quoting Ada Lovelace) and leave it at that. But we will not get away so easily. Gratitude is not entailed in a moment of metatheoretical recognition; it is an orientation toward the world, indistinguishable from its embodiment in everyday practices.

    Plant, Sadie. 1997. Zeros + Ones. Digital Women + the New Technoculture. London: Fourth Estate Ltd.

    (Interesting note: the site only allows one email address, so does not accommodate authors who are multiply embodied.)

    J.K. Gibson-Graham

    September 16, 2008 at 4:32 pm

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