Issue #17 Desire for/within Economic Transformation

Desire for/within Economic Transformation

Antke Engel

Issue #17
June 2010

With The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It) (1996), J. K. Gibson-Graham won the hearts of many socialist, post-socialist, and queer-feminist readers.1 The book’s main argument is that new possibilities for economic transformation will arise once we no longer understand capitalism as a monolithic entity or as covering the whole range of existing economic practices. The argument is taken up again in the more recent book A Postcapitalist Politics: “As we begin to conceptualize contingent relationships where invariant logics once reigned, the economy loses its character as an asocial body in lawful motion and instead becomes a space of recognition and negotiation.”2 Gibson-Graham work systematically to establish the conditions for thinking through economy by other means, for developing other economies. In order to do so they combine a Foucauldian approach that focuses on self-technologies as a means of reproducing and/or transforming power relations and modes of governance, with “a counter-hegemonic project of constructing ‘other’ economies.”3

Three elements are decisive for what they call “a politics of possibilities”; the three elements are thoroughly intertwined, and yet each may also become a point of entry for far-reaching, even global processes of transformation. First of all, they propose developing new forms of thinking, and, accordingly, a new economic language. They present this as working on the level of the political imaginary to invent a language of economic difference:

A capitalocentric discourse condenses economic difference, fusing the variety of noncapitalist economic activities into a unity in which meaning is anchored to capitalist identity. Our language politics is aimed at fostering conditions under which images and enactments of economic diversity … might stop circulating around capitalism, stop being evaluated with respect to capitalism, and stop being seen as deviant or exotic or excentric—departures from the norm.4

Second, Gibson-Graham articulate “self-cultivation” as a means of encouraging forms of subjectivity that would be open to trying new economic practices: “If we want other worlds and other economies, how do we make ourselves a condition of possibility for their emergence?”5 Consequently, the third element is “the collaborative pursuit of economic experimentation.”6

This combination of anticipatory imagination, language politics, and everyday practices incites a means of imagining and enacting a postcapitalist politics. It constitutes space for a heterogeneity of economic practices, which do not take the logic of capital and maximizing profit for granted, and does not present them as inescapable. Collective practices, community economy, and the lately popular notion of the commons are central to Gibson-Graham’s reflections on—and social experiences of—developing economic alternatives. Yet they conspicuously insist on aiming for socioeconomic and political practices that resist an ideal of sameness or homogeneity. Instead, they understand community as a form of Jean-Luc Nancy’s “being-in-common”:

In constructing a discourse and practice of the community economy, what if we were to resist the pull of the sameness or commonness of economic being and instead focus on a notion of economic being-in-common? That is, rather than thinking in terms of the common properties of an ideal economic organization or an ideal community economy, we might think of the being-in-common of economic subjects and of all possible and potential economic forms.7

Practices of being-in-common create space for difference, for a potentially conflictual heterogeneity defined by complex interdependencies. A notion of the social, which encounters freedom in relationality, is theoretically indebted to Louis Althusser’s concept of overdetermination. Explaining the use of this concept in detail in The End of Capitalism, Gibson-Graham explain that building an understanding of society on the thesis of overdetermination means that everything is seen as effected and effecting—any cause must necessarily also be an effect at the same time. The authors underline that this leads to a complex dynamic in which power relations cannot be isolated from one another, with no all-encompassing “truth” with which to effectively distinguish them. Any image of society depends on the perspective one takes, and the perspective one takes influences what one sees. Thus, academic as well as political practice, research, socioeconomic experimentation, or cultural and artistic work gain from a historically contextualized analysis that does not pretend to discover a single truth or present a universal solution.8

Jakob Lena Knebl, Tools, 2009, photo:heidi harsieber; copyright: artist.

Overdetermination is a tool for extending models of centralized power—whether an economistic view on capitalism or an androcentric view on patriarchy. Accordingly, for Gibson-Graham the project of diverse economies is always already and inherently intertwined with working, reworking, and transforming multiple relations of power and domination, including racist, sexist, and heteronormative regimes. Furthermore, they even insist that, “successful political innovation … requires an entirely new relation to power. It will need to escape power, go beyond it, obliterate it, transform it.”9 Although they refer explicitly to Michel Foucault, they somehow undermine his all-encompassing notion of power by reactivating the notion of liberation. Via theories of hegemony, a Marxist heritage finds its way into their thinking. Here they refer to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, who insist that power relations are not simply given, but only exist when being politically articulated and consensually agreed upon by a wide range of people.10 Thus the unchallenged monopoly of capitalism only exists as long as people agree to take its supposedly inescapable power for granted. However, to counter the phantasmatic whole of capitalism does not necessarily mean to present a singular alternative, but to engage in ongoing struggles over recognition and resources, over truth defined by contingency:

If politics is a process of transformation instituted by taking decisions on an ultimately undecidable terrain, a politics of possibility rests on an enlarged space of decision and a vision that the world is not governed by some abstract commanding force or global sovereignty. This does not preclude sedimentations of practice that have an aura of durability and the look of “structures,” or routinized rhythms that have an appearance of reliability and the feel of “reproductive dynamics.” It is, rather, to question the claims of truth and universality that accompany any ontological rigidity and to render these claims projects for empirical investigation and theoretical re-visioning. Our practice of thinking widens the scope of possibility by opening up each observed relationship to examination for its contingencies and each theoretical analysis for its inherent vulnerability and act of commitment.11

The Desire for Queering Capitalism

Giving up on notions of universality, truth, and rigid identities is sometimes referred to as a practice of “queering,” connected to the notion of desire. However, queering and desire are never explicitly linked. Queer theory is presented as a politics of language and a technique of rereading rather than of taking part in the “process of ‘resubjectivation’—the mobilization and transformation of desires, the cultivation of capacities, and the making of new identifications.”12 “Queering” comes up in the context of “reading for difference rather than dominance,” a practice that Gibson-Graham present as a tool “to queer economy.”13 Desire, however, appears as a promising force in all three fields of practice previously mentioned: it enables imagining things otherwise, as well as “economic experimentation” and the engagement in “new technologies of the self.”14 Yet even though the concept of desire continuously escorts the reader through the text, and is central to Gibson-Graham’s understanding of transformative processes, the concept remains surprisingly vague and under-theorized. Thus the question of how queering and desire converge remains an open one. Does desire automatically produce queerness or processes of queering? Should we consider some special kind of queer desire and, if so, would such a desire also then queer economy? Or would Gibson-Graham suggest that the queering of desire and the queering of economy are mutually constitutive and mutually dependent?

It is hard to argue that desire is queer in and of itself, that there is something ontologically queer in desire. Much critique has been developed from queer-feminist perspectives showing how phallocentric and heteronormative desires contribute to installing hierarchies and inequalities, even grounding violent practices—a critique elaborated upon in detail by Gibson-Graham when they deconstruct the image of capitalist economy as an impenetrable body.15 I would therefore insist that there is no queering of economy without a queering of desire. What I would like to explore in the following concerns whether some kind of queering of desire has already taken place or is at work implicitly in Gibson-Graham’s approach. This will allow me to ask a second question: what is the role of desire in constituting new forms of community, society, and global social relations that function according to a logic of being-in-common rather than commonness per se?

Alekos Hofstetter, Slump, 2002. Gouache on paper mounted on wood, 80 x 103 cm.

I ask these questions against the backdrop of queer theory in general, and in particular of having co-organized a conference on economy and sexuality. Heteronormativity and desire are categories central to queer theory. The former provides an analytical tool used to explain how heterosexuality and the rigid binary distinction of gender become naturalized and reproduced as social norms. As such, they regulate subjectivities, social relationships, and institutions, and install hierarchies.16 The latter, desire, provides for re-articulations of heteronormativity, opening up an anticipatory and transformative dimension. Feminist and queer approaches to desire not only challenge the heterosexual norm and the premise of binary gender difference, but also point to the sociopolitical productivity of desire.17 Against this backdrop, “Desiring Just Economies / Just Economies of Desire,” an international conference to be held in Berlin in June 2010, seeks to explore how desire not only sustains current economies, but also carries the potential for inciting new forms of understanding and “doing” economy.18 The organizers propose to focus on the notion of desire as a tool to explore the sexual dimension of economy as much as the economic dimension of sexuality. To what extent can the pursuit of economic and sexual justice be made to coincide when economy is queered by desire? J. K. Gibson-Graham are major sources and inspirations for this conference, which is, as is this article, an attempt to connect with their project of thinking against “the view that anything new would not work.”19

For Gibson-Graham, the concept of desire is not sexualized. Although they analyze how sexual imagery and imagination organize economic discourse and practice, desire is invoked mainly with more general connotations of wishing, longing, or striving. It is sometimes associated with pleasure, libidinal investment, or seduction, but more often manifests as a desire for “noncapitalism” or a desire to be part of a community economy.20 What particularly interests me about their concept of desire concerns its—paradoxical—presentation as a primarily conservative force that keeps people in their place and impedes the emergence of daring new forms of being or acting, while simultaneously also carrying the potential of inciting “an interest in unpredictability, contingency, experimentation, or even an attachment to the limit of understanding and the possibilities of escape.”21 This paradox—when played out as a productive tension—holds the promise of linking Foucault’s insights into desire as a product of historical power/knowledge with a Deleuzoguattarian understanding of desire as movement and becoming.22 As such, I would argue that desire allows the envisioning and enacting of a “politics of possibility” while acknowledging the normative or violent conditions of the present. However, this openness to paradox is sometimes countered by another tendency, of installing a clear-cut distinction between repression and liberation, one that leads to a promise of liberating desire from being “stalemated in a fixation.”23 I find this rather problematic, however, because it suggests a space where neither power relations nor conflict nor violence need to be dealt with.

René Magritte, Par un belle fin dapres midi, 1964, gouache on paper, 36x54.5 cm.

It therefore seems most important to emphasize those moments in Gibson-Graham that underline the necessity of dealing with and socially organizing “negotiation, struggle, uncertainty, ambivalence, disappointment” rather than solely focusing on “friendliness, trust, conviviality, and companionable connection.”24 Even as I introduce this insistence on thinking of transformation as a power struggle—although a pleasurable one—I would still like to point out the promising potential of Gibson-Graham’s proposal of understanding desire and economy as inherently intertwined and mutually constitutive. It is this conceptual move that connects the politics of language, the politics of the subject, and the politics of collective action, allowing for new political imaginaries to develop practical effects:

A language of economic difference has the potential to offer new subject positions and prompt novel identifications, multiplying economic energies and desires. But the realization of this potential is by no means automatic. Capitalism is not just an economic signifier that can be displaced through deconstruction and the proliferation of signs. Rather, it is where the libidinal investment is.25

If capitalism is the place of libidinal investment, then it is obvious that political challenges to capitalism likewise need to work on libidinal investment and search for new forms of identification and desire—and this is exactly what Gibson-Graham are doing when they call for resubjectivation, devoting a full chapter to “Cultivating subjects for a community economy.”

Cultivating the Postcapitalist Self

With their project of cultivating a postcapitalist self ready to live togetherness as interdependency rather than commonality, while still acknowledging the ethics of connection, Gibson-Graham rely on a Lacanian version of psychoanalysis and its critique of the autonomous, rational subject. For Gibson-Graham the “Lacanian subject of lack” defined by the impossibility of identity guarantees an empty structural space that invites “a politics of becoming” or “the possibility of politics itself.”26 However, Lacan’s (masculinized) subject of lack is nevertheless hopelessly caught in a longing for identity and a fantasy of coherence, therefore projecting an unfixed and incomplete identity onto femininity. Although for Gibson-Graham this inspires the powerful gesture of naming the subject of politics “she,” they are unfortunately also limited by a Lacanian notion of desire, defined by its covering up of lack, and for that matter constituting complementary gender identifications. While Gibson-Graham do not reflect upon the latter, the former brings them to assign a significant role to that of the analyst:

From a Lacanian perspective, the role of the analyst is to interpret the analysand’s project of shoring up her fantasies, which lock her into fixed structures of desire and identity. An interruption by the analyst can provoke the analysand’s curiosity and begin the exploration that unravels fantasy and reveals it for what it is.27

While I am quite sympathetic to the idea of working with the potential of curiosity and explorative practices, I remain skeptical with regard to the authoritative or pedagogical power relation introduced through the figure of the analyst. Would we like to install this as the exemplary relationship for transforming subjectivity? Would we like to build our understanding of society on this kind of relationship? These are vital questions, since Gibson-Graham indeed see the role of the analyst in their own position in “action research processes” that aim at inciting communal economy building. What in the beginning of the book sounds like a refreshing means of doing politics becomes suspect when presented in the hierarchical context of a research setting in which social scientists activate the deprived inhabitants of a de-industrialized region and stimulate them to overcome their resistance to change: “Our repertory of tactics might include seducing, cajoling, enrolling, enticing, inviting.”28 As in advertising, desire is seen as an individual longing for phantasmatic fulfillment capable of seducing people into doing what one wishes.

Insofar as the process avoids suppression and rather encourages the individuals’ curiosity, capacities, and activity, it can be understood as a form of late modern Foucauldian governmentality—a way of linking subjectivation and rule in such a way that people submit out of free will. The role Antonio Gramsci envisioned for the “organic intellectual” is similar, as educating the people to become active contributors to a counter-hegemonic struggle aiming for new hegemonic consensus. And this brings us to the crux of the matter: does Gibson-Graham’s project of diverse economies and non-normative subjectivities, while providing space for heterogeneity and contingency, legitimize “seducing” people into their well-being? Precisely what form of redistribution secures the joy of the “pastor” who finds the non-believers, the resistant ones, finally “enlightened” by submitting to the truth of communal being-in-common?29>

Louise Bourgeois, Blind Man’s Buff, 1984, marble.

I see two problems here in Gibson-Graham’s attempts to cultivate subjects of communal economies. One is that they lose sight of their declared aim to think in terms of complex interdependencies, which would necessarily demand analyzing the politics of subjects as not only constitutive of new economic relations, but also of existing late modern, neoliberal discourses and power relations that promote self-responsibility, team-building, and independence from state support. The focus of attention falls on the development of a self that is engaged in community enterprises, is poor-but-happy, and functions as a self-activated, positive thinking being who forsakes global perspectives of social justice or the damnation of capitalism, but creates alternative economies posing no threat to profit-oriented structures. However, the absence of doubt with regard to whether this self fits all too well into the creation of a divided world of non-profit survival and capitalocentric rule, remains questionable.

The other problem that results from stabilizing established power relations lies in a delight over difference that neglects the difference of conflict, contradiction, competition, privilege, or antagonistic political views or interests. Energies for building community economies are understood to be fruitful when there is “no militant advocacy, no talk of struggle against a despised capitalism.”30 Furthermore, conflicts internal to being-in-common, but which jeopardize togetherness, are presented as a result of the “psychic difficulties of relinquishing established economic identities,” which can be overcome once a new perspective is achieved whereby one is open “to the humanity of others, to the possibility of being other than she was, to participating with those most different from herself (in her own antagonistic worldview) in constructing a community economy.”31

Both problems, I would like to argue, are due to an unresolved and excessively harmonious relation between identification and desire. Here it would be interesting to turn to Judith Butler’s latest consideration of desire. In Undoing Gender (2004), she presents a re-reading of Lacan in which she insists that desire is not “the desire of the Other”—as Lacan suggests to undermine the illusion of the self-contained subject—but rather constituting “the Other of the Other” that becomes relevant in desiring relation.32 One has to take into account that the Other is shifting between the social or concrete Other, my fantasy of the Other, and the Other as an “ek-static self” who is not in control of her/himself, occupying all these positions simultaneously, yet never fully. Accordingly, identification finds multiple entrance points, and desire and identification may combine in various, even contradictory ways. This clearly subverts a heteronormative understanding that considers desire and identification to be mutually exclusive—I am not to desire who I identify with, and I am not to identify with who I desire. Whereas Butler’s notion of desire thoroughly complicates processes of identification, which can no longer rely on clearly defined positions of subject and object, Gibson-Graham’s process of cultivating a postcapitalist self in the end reconciles identification and desire. Even though they insist on the impossibility of fixing identity, their aim is to develop desires for community economies embodied by subjects who identify as being connected to others. Interdependency is not always taken as granted, but is the result of an arduous process, which captures and contains the Other of the Other in the very act of providing space for it. For Gibson-Graham the point is not to incite a never-ending process of dynamic tensions between identification and desire, desires prompting or subverting identifications, identifications inciting or stabilizing desires; rather, there is only one of these directions present and valued: that is, desires effecting identifications with communal economies.

Gibson-Graham’s argument carries a built-in opposition between the discursive constitution of the subject and its limits, namely its embodied affectivity, showing itself by the fact that “the body has a ‘mind’ of its own, that there might be resistance to new identities, attachments to old ones, unconscious refusals to change, fears of symbolization.”33 They present this as a distinction between the “emptiness of the subject” and the “fullness of embodiment.” Yet why would the emptiness of the subject “that is the ultimate ground for our ability to change” stand in opposition to the “fullness beyond the level of conscious feeling and thought”? My impression is that the search for transformative potentials is too much directed towards the unconscious, habitual, sensational, embodied dimensions of a new postcapitalist self. Transformative perspectives are bound to the idea of emancipating the subject from the ego, rather than starting from a self that is “from the start, given over to the other” and the social relations developing from there.34 Queer theory proposes to understand desire as not solely a category of subjectivity, of sexual practices or intimate relations, but as productive in and of the social—which includes macropolitical processes and institutions.35 It problematizes the understanding of desire as lack, because it produces the (phantasmatic) object that promises satisfaction as well as the subject longing to appropriate and control the object.36 Instead of seeing desire as something inherent to a subject and directed towards an object, it is conceptualized as a process or movement, productive in the sense that it constitutes and designs social relationships and relations. In this sense Elspeth Probyn suggests to understand desire as moving through images on the surface of the social—drawing connections and forming assemblages, either according to well-known patterns of identity, difference, and their hierarchized power relations, or through images that confuse or disrupt established normalities and invoke surprising assemblages. Referring to Deleuze and Guattari’s consideration of desire and power, she distinguishes between de-territorializing and re-territorializing processes. Yet, while she presents desire as a deterritorializing force, she also agrees with Foucault, who sees desire as constituted by sociohistorical power relations, and thus as potentially compliant with reterritorializations.37

Since Probyn acknowledges desire’s inherent ambiguity, her notion of it seems to fit well with Gibson-Graham’s double vision of desire as a conservative as well as a transformative force:

At any point in the history-making process, an individual is caught up in two places, experiencing the dissatisfactions and disappointments of what they know and habitually desire and the satisfactions and surprises of what is new, but hard to fully recognize and want.38

Yet taking into account Probyn’s proposal to understand desire as a social-surface energy also invites the question of how this ambiguity or paradoxical tension can structure socioeconomic or, for that matter, sociosexual surfaces, and which images function as “means of transportation” in these processes.39 This would indeed go well alongside Gibson-Graham’s language politics and search for a new political imaginary. Rather than being captured by the need to translate such ambiguity into a story of liberation and progress, Gibson-Graham would gain space for collective practices moving in images that disrupt harmonious linkages of identification and desire. According to Probyn, desire may provide me with belonging—yet not because it comes from somewhere, but because it is going somewhere. This is also what Teresa de Lauretis invokes when she speaks of desire taking place in fantasy scenarios, where each of the protagonists is simultaneously subject, object, and beholder of the scene. In De Lauretis’ account, it is not only desire that turns social, but also fantasy. Far from being an individualized psychic capacity, fantasy is made up of historically shaped, publicly available, and biographically gained imagery—effecting identification as plausibly as repulsion, alienation, or self-alienation.40

Drawing on this corpus of queer-feminist theory, it is possible to extend Gibson-Graham’s politics of the making and remaking of an imaginary in a way that also revises their Lacanian understanding of fantasy. In correlation with their notion of desire, they define fantasy as “the mode of integration of the subject into the symbolic order and the anchor of identification.”41 Here fantasy remains bound to “wholeness” and functions as a “conservative” force submitting the subject to the symbolic order, and as such counteracts curiosity, experimentation, and desubjectivation. If we consider instead how Teresa de Lauretis and Judith Butler—who both refer to Laplanche and Pontalis’ considerations of the simultaneous origin of fantasy and sexuality—deploy the subject, fantasy becomes a process of negotiation between public and personal imagery.42 As such, it is thoroughly intertwined with sociohistorical power relations. Yet it’s also a resource in social and often semi-private subcultural practices that allows us to imagine ourselves and others otherwise, not bound to the heteronormative ideals of coherence and complementarity but, maybe, involved in fantasy scenarios, where the desiring encounters of various Others of the Other take place. Fantasies, seen as images drawing connections on social surfaces, are not chimeras but means of collective transformation.

“All this adds up to a willingness to become communal subjects, to accept their incompleteness, interdependence, and connection across differences of age, race, sexuality, body type, financial need, and social status.”43 Gibson-Graham clearly mark this as a “fantasy,” a fantasy of “becoming community,” a fantasy built upon the promise that differences might no longer constitute conflict, competition, or violence, a fantasy of “a class relationship understood from the reparative perspective of potential and connection, rather than separateness, rip off, and alienation.” Yet the question remains whether we might also need fantasies of togetherness and being-in-common defined by competition, conflict, and violence—fantasies of negotiating the precarious thresholds between power, abuse of power, and violence, and the complex overdetermination of structural and symbolic inequalities, and of transformative agency.


J. K. Gibson-Graham, The End of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996).


J. K. Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), xxx.


Ibid., 79.


Ibid., 56.


Ibid., 7.


Ibid., xxiii.


Ibid., 85, 86.


See Gibson-Graham, The End of Capitalism, 27ff.


Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 6.


Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, trans. Winston Moore and Paul Cammack (London: Verso, 1985).


Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, xxxiii.


Ibid., xxxvi.


Ibid., xxxi, xxxii.


Ibid., xxi, xxviii.


See Gibson-Graham, The End of Capitalism, 120ff.


See Samuel Chambers and Terrell Carver, Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics (London: Routledge, 2008).


See Antke Engel, “Traveling Images: Desire as Movement; Desire as Method,” in Out Here: Local and International Perspectives in Queer Studies, ed. Tomasz Basiuk, Dominika Ferens, and Tomasz Sikora (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006), 13–24.


See . The conference organizers are Nikita Dhawan, Antke Engel, Christoph Holzhey, and Volker Woltersdorff.


Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 3.


Ibid., 20, xxxv, 6, xxxvi, 132.


Ibid., xxiii, 13, 129, 7.


Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, ed. Colin Gordon, trans. Colin Gordon et al. (New York: Pantheon, 1980); Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1 (1972), trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (London and New York: Continuum, 2004).


Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 13.


Ibid., 99 and 6.


Ibid., xxxv.


Ibid., xxxiii.


Ibid., 129.


Ibid., 6. For reflection on the action research process see 127ff.


Ibid., 154–155.


Ibid., 160.


Ibid., 138, 155.


See Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (New York: Routledge, 2004), 131–151.


This and the following quotations: Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 128.


Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2006), 31.


See Teresa de Lauretis, The Practice of Love: Lesbian Sexuality and Perverse Desire (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), and Elspeth Probyn, Outside Belongings (New York: Routledge, 1996).


See Elizabeth Grosz, “Refiguring Lesbian Desire,” in The Lesbian Postmodern, ed. Laura Doan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 67–84.


See notes 35 and 17.


See Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 162.


I undertook such a project in Antke Engel, Bilder von Sexualität und Ökonomie (Bielefeld: transcript, 2009), where I read artistic and media imagery of gender ambiguities and dissident sexualities, examining how queer and neoliberal cultural politics intersect.


See Teresa de Lauretis, The Practice of Love, xix.


Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 129.


Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, “Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality,” in Formations of Fantasy, ed. Victor Burgin, James Donald, and Cora Kaplan (London: Methuen, 1986), 5–34.


This quote and the following: Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics, 16.

Economy, Capitalism, Psychology & Psychoanalysis
Queer Art & Theory, Post-capitalism, Subjectivity
Return to Issue #17

For Julie Graham, who left much too early.

Antke Engel is director of the Institute for Queer Theory situated in Hamburg and Berlin ( She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Potsdam University in 2001 and held a visiting professorship for Queer Theory at Hamburg University between 2003 and 2005. Her work focuses on feminist and poststructuralist theory, on conceptualizations of sexuality and desire, and on the critique of representation. From 2007–2009 she was research fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICI-Berlin).


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