Development ≠ full employment

This research counters the longstanding development assumption that spaces without widespread wages simply need a modernization-inspired push for job creation. Drawing on anarchist insights about the here-and-now, I suggest post-wage spaces have distinctive cultural features emerging from cash grant economies and a shifting landscape of work. Understanding post-wage spaces beyond deficit (lacking jobs), allows us to locate prefigurations of more intentionally post-wage societies that can challenge the hegemony that secures wages as the default form of distribution.

Recognizing that contemporary capitalism is structurally wage-expelling, I counter the popular idea that development requires employment and instead focus on how wages can be mourned and ultimately superseded. During fifteen months of fieldwork in rural northern Namibia, I conducted participant observation, interviewing, surveys, and mental sketch mapping with students, pensioners, and educated-but-unemployed youth. My findings detail how a persistent cultural lore about wages remains in post-wage space; in part, because schools instill wage-based ontologies even as graduates are deposited into wageless futures. However, the research also showed how pension market vendors and low-budget musicians engage in productive work beyond wages.

The findings from this project will be published first as my dissertation, and secondly as an academic or trade monograph. The findings are grouped into  three primary categories:

1. Conceptualizing post-wage space

2. Understanding everyday prefigurations that might lead to post-wage ontologies

3. Exploring the persistent popular support for wage-based society and the resistance to acknowledging wagelessness

This is an ongoing project.

Situated In:  Development Geographies; Cultural Geography; Social Foundations of Education

Publications in this collection.

African Geographical Review 39 (3): 240-251 (2019)

Beyond the School, Beyond North America: New Maps for the Critical Geographies of Education

Geoforum 110: 183-185 (2020)

In Progress Book Manuscript

Tentative Title: As Wages Wane: Prefiguring and Resisting Post-Wage Societies