New article: ‘Beyond limits and scarcity: Feminist and decolonial contributions to degrowth’

WEGO-ITN partner Prof. Dr. Lyla Mehta and WEGO-ITN coordinator, Prof. Dr. Wendy Harcourt, have released a new article in Political Geography, which is now available in open access.

Read the first paragraphs below and find the full text here.

We welcome this opportunity to participate in this important dialogue between political ecology and degrowth. We bring to this debate two issues: (1) perspectives on limits and scarcity, and (2) the histories and knowledges of feminist political ecology and decolonial feminism as a way of enriching degrowth’s political grammar and strategies.

Robbins and Gómez-Baggethun, citing Mehta’s The Limits to Scarcity (2010), both refer to the political ecology take on scarcity as a ‘construct that is allied with elite power, not emancipatory process’. It is important to note that Mehta and her collaborators draw not just on political ecology but also on non-equilibrium ecology, heterodox economics, political philosophy and anthropology to question scarcity’s taken-for-granted nature. Scarcity rarely takes place due to the natural order of things. It is the result of exclusion and unequal gender, social and power relations that legitimize skewed access to, and control over, finite and limited resources. As such, scarcity is a relational concept connected to market forces of demand and supply. This does not mean that scarcity is merely a social construct or only the result of power and politics. As argued in Mehta (2010), there are biophysical realities concerning falling groundwater levels, melting ice caps and declining soil fertility, and these biophysical limits need to be acknowledged. However, biophysical limits should not be used to deploy universal and blanket notions of scarcity that deny how women and men (especially the poorest and powerless among them) in specific localities perceive and experience scarcity. So-called limits and thresholds will always be perceived and experienced differently by different actors (cf. Luks, 2010). This means we need to discursively unpack what is meant by scarcity.

 

Video: What to expect from the 8th International Degrowth Conference?

WEGO-ITN’s partners and researchers have gathered to produce this video, as to prepare for the Feminist Political Ecology Key Conversation, a series of pre-event online discussions building up to workshops and a plenary at the 8th International Degrowth Conference, that will take place in the Hague between 24-28 August 2021.

Calls for contribution – in any form: articles, art, videos, perfomances – are still open until April 6th.

The conversations will explore feminisms, relations of care and well-being, with a focus on the following: How can we understand care as central within degrowth and at the core of our economies and societies? In what way can economies be rearranged in terms of provisioning that care, taking into account health, aging and ability, whilst degrowing? How can we change our relations of care among humans and more-than-human beings so that future societies are just for all living beings? How can we think about degrowth in relation to Covid19 and avoid essentializing nature when talking about these relations?

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Entrelazamientos entre la Economía Solidaria y el Degrowth. Una perspectiva desde un corazón latino

Hoy me desperté a las 6:45 am, como de costumbre. Decidí que hoy sería un día productivo, como de costumbre, pero no lo fue. “Das Leben läuft nicht besonders gut, nicht nur für mich, sondern für alle”. Bueno, para algunos magnates de Wall Street la pandemia ha sido el mejor escenario para generar profits.

Hoy no me siento con ganas de escribir en inglés, entonces boté la tesis y comencé a escribir esto que prometí escribiría para nuestro proyecto de WEGO en español. We want to reach more audiences. Hace tiempo que quiero escribir en mi lengua natal, el español. Y es que, aunque es una lengua colonizadora, es la lengua que nos une a todes les latines! Cuando llegué por primera vez a The Hague, a formar parte de la red WEGO me topé con conceptos que nunca había escuchado en inglés. Uno de ellos fue Degrowth, o descrecimiento, como lo conocemos en América Latina. Yo me preguntaba, pues cómo que Degrowth, para dónde o cómo? Desde dónde se agarra impulso o cómo se va uno para atrás? Se me hacía tan raro escuchar esa palabra. Y es que yo me formé en teoría descolonial, estudié ciencia política y geografía, y aunque mi tesis la escribí con el economista Dr. Boris Marañon, nosotros no hablamos de Degrowth. Junto con él me di un clavado en los temas descoloniales, tenía yo 20 años. Para él la discusión del Degrowth no era tan relevante. Él es peruano. Para él era relevante teorizar sobre la economía solidaria, sobre trueque, sobre monedas alternativas, sobre el andino Sumak Kawsay y el Sumaq Qamana, todo desde América Latina. No descartábamos el descrecimiento, pero éramos conscientes de que retomarlo significaría agarrarle la mano a Europa, otra vez.

Yo desarrollé mi pensamiento a su lado. Trabajé con él en el Instituto de Economía de la UNAM. Juntos fuimos a encuentros de mercados alternativos, de trueques, de sentipensares. El español no reinaba, se hablaba Zapoteco, Mazahua, Tzotzil, y otros idiomas de los pueblos originarios de México. Ahí aprendí de diversidad, de practicar, de compartir y de sentir. También me hice consciente de mis privilegios, que aunque en mi familia vivimos tiempos de pobreza, yo salí blanca, y eso ya me da ventaja. Yo sólo tenía 20 años, y cada día aprendía algo nuevo y mantenía firme la esperanza de que otros mundos son posibles. Hablábamos de economía solidaria y de solidaridad económica no de Degrowth, no de descreciemiento.

Regresando a Europa, a The Hague, al doctorado. Hice mi marco teórico. Comencé a analizar food waste/desperdicio de comida, care, the commons.. I saw on the management of food waste/ desperdicio de comida the potential development of other economies. Y desarrollando mi marco teórico me encontré ante una gama alta de categorizaciones. La pregunta era: cómo teorizar esas prácticas de economía que identifiqué en las prácticas de gobernanza del food waste/desperdicio de comida? Me decidí por enmarcarlas en las teorizaciones de la economía solidaria. Decidí no utilizar el concepto de community economies o el de Degrowth por las siguientes razones. La economía solidaria pone en el centro de las relaciones económicas las prácticas de reciprocidad. Esto significa que un bien tanto material como inmaterial se mueve en direcciones multilaterales y genera relaciones de responsabilidad entre los sujetos. Es decir, el bien es entregado a alguien, ese alguien lo acepta, pero tiene la responsabilidad de regresarlo. En tiempos y espacios diferentes y en acciones o servicios diferentes al bien entregado, claro. Esto crea sin duda lazos de responsabilidad entre las partes y gestos de cuidado al procurar tener que devolver un bien. La economía solidaria teorizada en América Latina rescata la idea de la reciprocidad de sociedades originarias. La práctica fundadora de relaciones sociales se encontraba basada en las prácticas de trueque y reciprocidad. Eran otras civilizaciones, otra economía. En este contexto, la economía solidaria apuesta por la consolidación de otra economía, pero reconoce que el capitalismo es un mal que no es fácil de acabar ni de transformar. Es así que practicar economía solidaria significa consolidar un eje fundacional para la organización social, económica y política dentro de los linderos del capitalismo.

El degrowth en cambio pone en su núcleo la discusión del crecimiento económico y el consumo. Es un término atractivo como una apuesta para censurar o disminuir el crecimiento de sectores económicos y el reparto del trabajo. Es un proyecto político que busca reivindicar una vida otra. Busca una reorganización de la sociedad desde una perspectiva en la que se reafirma el rescate del derecho a la vida misma por sobre el consumo, la organización capitalista del trabajo y la explotación de la naturaleza. Se busca una desvinculación de la vida con respecto al dinero. Se busca recuperar lo local frente a la organización global capitalista. El degrowth busca repensar la organización de la vida por la vida misma. La pregunta aquí sería cómo comenzamos a hacer eso sin una base política que practique en su vida cotidiana gestos de intercambio y reciprocidad? Cómo imaginar sociedades en descrecimiento que no han generado vínculos solidarios entre los sujetos? Cómo imaginar una economía local sin caer en la reproducción de prácticas neoliberales?

En suma, el Degrowth es un proyecto político con una apuesta inmensa por un cambio social, mientras que la economía solidaria es un proyecto político acompañado por una transformación de valores que se construyen desde abajo. La economía solidaria no compite directamente con el capital, sino que comienza a apropiarse de sus espacios. Comienza a construir redes y busca consolidar lazos solidarios para la fundación de una sociedad basada en el cuidado entre los sujetos y entre los sujetos con la naturaleza.

Invitation and open call for the 8th International Degrowth Conference

We invite you to participate in the 8th International Degrowth Conference “Caring Communities for Radical Change” that will take place in the Hague between 24-28 August 2021.

The Conference aims to connect activists, artists, academics, practitioners, students, and general public to create an open platform for discussing ideas and practices which can ensure wellbeing for all within the Earth’s limits.

You will find more information about the conference in our open call for participation in Dutch, French and English here.

For more information contact: info@degrowth.nl.

 

Degrowth is a movement and a research field that explores fundamental questions and proposes solutions confronting the roots of today’s crises: 

  • How do we confront the contradictions between (the pursuit of) endless economic growth and the ecological boundaries of our planet?
  • What kind of society would ensure a good life for all, without wealth and power being hoarded by the few?
  • How can we enable a just transition that halts over-extraction, over-production and over-consumption?

More on degrowth by WEGO-ITN partner prof. Dr. Wendy Harcourt

Thinking through the relations between feminist political ecology, degrowth, commoning and post-development

The Lalang river, in Indonesia, is a common property for the Murung people – almost all Murung activities happens on or around the river. However, catching fish has become more difficult for the Murung women when extractive projects such as coal mines operate in the region. Photo credit: Siti Maimunah.

 

In July this year, four of us (Nanako, Mai, Martina and Enid)  came together online to present our work and bring a feminist political ecology perspective to debates and discussions happening at the IASC-RIHN Online Workshop On Commons, Post-Development and Degrowth in Asia.  This is what we presented – and learned.

With issues of commons and commoning, the more-than-human and care, all featuring in our PhD work, we were keen to learn about the diverse meanings of the commons, their intersecting power dynamics and transformative potential in the context of Asia. For instance, what similarities and differences are shared among commons studies in Asia? Do they go beyond hegemonic formulations introduced by Western concepts, which are often carefully attended to by Asian scholars and in Asian studies? Indeed, using exogenous terms and concepts entails challenges in terms of linguistic and epistemological incompatibility. So why is it necessary to translate locally embedded terms? Nanako touched upon this challenge through questioning the necessity of linguistic and semantic translations in relation to aging, a universal concern, and the specificity of Japanese rural communities and the associated traditional landscape or Satoyama. 

Mai brought the topic of extractivism to the workshop, through the example from her fieldwork where indigenous communities who depend on rivers in Central Kalimantan to sustain their livelihood have experienced the spatial reorganisation of communal forests and agricultural lands, which are being converted into coal mining areas to pursue economic growth. She was interested in questions such as, how do experiences of extractivism relate to commoning practices? Do principles of degrowth support the struggles of people affected by extractivist projects?

This workshop therefore offered us an opportunity to learn and think with others about different commoning practices happening in Asia, and also tackle difficult, often uncomfortable questions about how they are being represented and narrated in degrowth and post-development scholarship. These tensions and our interest in confronting them were further articulated through Enid’s presentation of the idea that a just Degrowth is a Decolonial Feminist Degrowth. The plurality of thinking and praxis around Degrowth, the commons and post development, we found, like feminisms, are infused with constructive tensions and contestation.

We were particularly inspired by the way that the studies presented at the workshop embraced and enriched the practice of working, thinking and researching with situated knowledges. Among the many inspiring presentations, discussions and debates happening both on zoom and the online conference platform, Slack, there were, two presentations that resonated with us: “Gradual Stiffening through Making-Do: A Method of Hope for Degrowthing Shared Public Spaces” by Chris Berthelsen, Xin Cheng, Rumen Rachev and “Covid-19, Common, and Life within Society: Indonesian Case” by Nur Dhani Hendranastiti. 

The former presentation was on the possibilities of collective hope in urban commons and commoning practices. Beyond visions of urban commons as fixed urban spaces, they suggest a re-orientation of notions of property and shared urban spaces and places, that are lived through a method of collective hope, thinking and operating beyond the human, and which is made and remade through the opening up of possibilities which can only exist in ambiguity and uncertainty. Related to this, earlier work by Xin Cheng and Chris Berthelsen explored how small co-habitations might work on a larger community scale through the below ‘hallucination.’ Their collaborations in themselves are inspiring to think through the multiple practices of knowledge co-production in relation to shared spaces and commoning practices – especially in their attentiveness to their more-than-human fellows! You can see more work by Xin Cheng on reframing urban socialities in Hamburg here and read her book on co-producing ‘human(e) shared spaces’ here.

The second presentation by Nur Dhani Hendranastiti, explored the correlations between Islamic ethical principles and degrowth principles. Ethical principles such as Amanah (trust), Adalah (social justice) and Ihsan (equilibrium through distribution) were at the core of the agricultural-financial system that supported farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. Decentering capital, the system privileges multiple stakeholder equality, including non-humans. Ecological economics and degrowth thinking often refers to ethical principles from Buddhism, (often drawing on the work of Schumacher) but rarely other religions. Whilst the financial system described still worked within the confines of a capitalist system and norms of individual property ownership, Nur Dhani Hendranastiti challenged us to think beyond what may have become dominant narratives about the ethical principles that guide degrowth.

Through the full but enjoyable three days of presentations, discussions and online chats, we were able to connect to a variety of different scholars and artists who helped us to develop a deeper understanding of the debates and practices on commoning, degrowth and post-development in Asia. In that learning and interacting process, we were commoning our knowledge, re-imagining a world full of plurality. Through our own collaborative presentation, we introduced the different issues, concerns, activisms, communities and theoretical frames we are working with and offered a brief intervention from a feminist political ecology perspective on some of the key theory and ideas coming from degrowth, post-development and commons scholarship. The diversity of perspectives made visible at this workshop demonstrated the dynamism of these intersecting disciplines and practices, and created a hopeful and careful space to remain curious in these challenging times.

WEGO at the Degrowth Vienna 2020 conference on Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation

Wendy Harcourt, Anna Katharina Voss and ISS MA graduate Rosa de Nooijer invite you to the presentation of our paper ‘Relations of Care: Ethics and Food Production in Europe’ at the upcoming Degrowth Vienna 2020 conference. In our presentation we explore how Covid-19 is redrawing our understanding of social reproduction and how care is part of the embodied labour of women and men engaging in alternative food production in rural landscapes in Italy and in the reclaimed territory of the Flevopolder in The Netherlands. We will give our talk at the panel ‘Territories, Resources and Care Work. Feminist Perspectives on Transformation’, convened by university lecturer, freelance author and scholar-activist Christa Wichterich.

relations of care
Source: Degrowth Vienna 2020 conference

Our collaborative session will look at everyday politics and practices of care work as counternarratives of resistance and regeneration emerging in territories menaced by resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food in Africa, South America and Europe. We will be joined by Samantha Heargreaves from the African alliance of women against extractivism WoMin and her talk on ‘Extractivism, Women’s Care Work and the Right to Say NO’, and PhD candidate Camila Nobrega Rabello Alves who will speak about ‘Feminist Perspectives on the Social-environmental Conflicts of the Hydropower Dam São Luiz do Tapajós, Brazil: Shifting Narratives’.

As Covid-19 has disrupted our plans to travel to Vienna in person and instead to exchange our thinking and experiences in a virtual conference space, we will also reflect on how this unprecedent global health-and-beyond crisis has brought visibility to the essential and life-sustaining nature of care and care work, only reaffirming the urgency to think and act towards radical alternatives beyond the patriarchal-capitalist growth model. Following the single presentations there will be time for questions and we hope for a lively discussion with the audience. 

What: Panel ‘Territories, Resources and Care Work. Feminist Perspectives on Transformation’

When: 31 May 2020, 10-11:30am

Where: Online

For info and registration: https://www.degrowthvienna2020.org/en/

Video for presentation

PhD course on degrowth in Europe: foundations in theory and pathways to practice

The course, which takes place from 11-15 May 2020, will be convened by the Department of Food and Resource Economics of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

It will engage in the ‘degrowth’ / ‘postgrowth’ discourse through the perspectives of the complementary and established traditions of

  • political ecology,
  • feminist scholarship,
  • ecological economics.

The course will survey theoretical contributions to degrowth from various schools of thought, while emphasizing praxis in multiple social spheres and similarly, scholar-activism. The course unfolds within a frame of Degrowth in Europe, emphasizing what European peoples and states can and must do, starting within our own region.

Expected learning outcomes

The course aims to enable and advance critical engagement with degrowth scholarship and praxis. Learning outcomes include:
1. Knowledge of key arguments and areas of consensus within degrowth studies from the perspective of academic traditions of Political Ecology, Feminist scholarship, and Ecological Economics.
2. Analytical and evaluative skill development in relation to research within the field of degrowth studies, drawing on academic traditions of Ecological Economics, Political Ecology and Feminist scholarship.
3. Competence to critically discuss current and imagine new policies and practices.

Dates and application deadline

The course will take place from 11-15 May 2020.
The application deadline is 1 February 2020.

View the full course description.

Living well-together: feminism, degrowth and the ‘good life’

The WEGO proposal on ‘Living well-together: feminism, degrowth and the ‘good life’ has been accepted for the 7th International Degrowth and 16th ISEE Joint Conference: Building Alternative Livelihoods in times of ecological and political crisis taking place from 1 – 5 September 2020 at The University of Manchester, UK.
https://tinyurl.com/Degrowth2020Mcr.

Convenors: Wendy Harcourt, Panagiota Kotsila and members of EU-WEGO-ITN Network

Presenters anticipated: Irene Leonardelli; Chizu SatoConstance DupuisMartina PadmanabhanEnid Still; Gülay Caglar; Marlene Gomez; Panagiota Kotsila; Ilenia Iengo; Alice Owen; Stefania Barca; Seema KulkarniSabrina Aguiari;  Rebecca Elmhirst and Wendy Harcourt

The subtheme will look at how diverse communities respond to economic and ecological changes by organizing for well-being in efforts to move out of situations of discrimination, oppression and inequality. The focus will be on how caste, race, age, gender, sexuality and class relations can be reshaped in emerging practices of commoning, community economies and how communities can generate successful strategies across and with difference of ‘living well together’. The subtheme will bring together concepts of queer, trans and feminist political ecology, decoloniality, and post development in an open debate on how to interrogate hierarchies as we think about living well together building communities for well-being based on emancipation and sustainability.

Great transformation: the future of modern companies

WEGO was in action in Jena, Germany at the Conference on Great Transformation: the future of modern companies which was held at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena from 23-27 September 2019

PhD Marlene Gómez Beccera presented her research work on Alternative food initiatives in Berlin and Barcelona.

Prof. Gülay Çağlar, part of the panel organizing team presented a paper on Sustainable consumption and food practices in Northern Europe and East Africa.

They presented their papers in the panel: Experiences of degrowth practices based on care for humans and the more-than-human world.

Conference programme (in German only): Hauptprogramm zur Konferenz Great Transformation 

Registration form (in German only) Info_Kauf Tageskarten im Vorfeld