Approach

The project is framed through the lens of community economies and takes a participatory research-through-design approach in order to create a gender-sensitive toolkit that can be mobilised to enhance civic participation in constructing desirable alpine futures in the face of economic globalisation and earth systems breakdown.

 

Community-based research lab
A major part of this research unfolds in a street-level and walk-in research lab based in the town of Rovereto (TN) in the Italian Alps. This will help to embed the research in the valley district and to ensure a high-level of accessibility and visibility to the project.

 

Community economies
The term community economies has been developed within posthumanist feminist economic geography and indicates economies in which social interdependency as well as ecological interdependency are acknowledged and respected.* The notion of community economies is inscribed in a feminist approach that reads the economy as always diverse (i.e. made up also of social and ecological activities usually considered unproductive in market terms) and that considers methods as well as theory as performative (i.e. to be producing the world they have set out to explore and theorise).

 

Participatory research-through-design
Participatory research-through-design is an approach to knowledge production close to participatory action research, which has practice and the involvement of people at its core. It implies that a project unfolds by continuously testing and evolving – in a participatory setting – the very thing that one aims to produce (in this case a series of social, visual and spatial tools – inclusive of a community-based research – that will constitute the toolkit).

 

Gender-sensitive research
This reserach adopts a gender-sensitive approach, which means that gender as a significant variable is taken into account along the whole research cycle, from formulating research questions to chosing research methods, from selecting research participants to making sure the lab and the workshops are accessible. This is extremely relevant in a context where non-male voices, despite their high innovation potential for regional development, are regularly left out.

 

*See for example: J.K. Gibson-Graham and Ethan Miller, “Economy as Ecological Livelihood,” in Manifesto for Living in the Anthropocene, ed. Katherine Gibson, Deborah Bird Rose, and Ruth Fincher (New York: Punctum Books, 2015), 7–16.