Trialing Analytic Metaphors for Socio-political Economic Alterity

Epiphytes and Slime Molds



alternative economies, diverse economies, community economies, metaphors, weak theory


Many geographers researching alternative and diverse economies, particularly those following Gibson-Graham, have resisted attempts to systematize emerging non-capitalist orders so as to avoid closing off plural possible futures. We argue that researchers can hold open “spaces of becoming” while still engaging in comparative studies of diverse organizational forms. Yet we also embrace Gibson-Graham’s concerns, particularly regarding power inequalities and hegemonic ideologies embedded in scholarly analyses. Found (at-hand) conceptual metaphors from unexpected domains may be useful for analyses of power in socio-political economies. We explore the utility of two possible conceptual metaphors for socio-political economic formations drawn from biology: epiphytes and slime molds. Each candidate metaphor highlights distinctive relational patterns of power and invites further analysis of the desirability of formations that echo their patterns.

Author Biography

Olivia R Williams, Independent Scholar

*each author contributed equally to the production of this manuscript


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How to Cite

Williams, O. R., & Pierce, J. (2019). Trialing Analytic Metaphors for Socio-political Economic Alterity: Epiphytes and Slime Molds. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(6), 1283–1299. Retrieved from