Local Exchange Networks in Cataluña

Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar

Through his research on alternative economic networks in Northern Cataluña, Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar analyzes the complex and contentious process of boundary making between alternative and conventional regimes of value. His research focuses on local exchange networks that – by utilizing alternative, local currencies (moneda social) and by advocating autonomist political practices (autogestión) – attempt to create different social relations and alternative forms of economic and political organization at the margins of conventional political-economic systems.

Building on a long tradition of economic anthropology and a sensitivity for the ambiguity of economic alterity, this research examines how alternative economic projects in actual fact balance and navigate between two poles; i.e. between realizing alternative livelihoods while at the same time engaging with already existing political-economic structures (such as state and market actors). In this way, this ethnography of the everyday construction of alternative economic systems contributes to an understanding of the complex and messy ways in which economic modalities are being contested and (re)produced in Southern-Europe.