In the current global context of environmental and food crisis, this panel puts forward solution-focused and practice-oriented ethnographic research undertaken in contexts where ongoing alternatives to unsustainable living, business-as-usual agribusiness, and food production were examined.
Providing a platform for researchers working in the areas of bioregionalism and permaculture principles of living, we want to investigate grassroots practices that explicitly go against the mainstream. We are interested in exploring both their imaginative potential as well as problematic or contradictory aspects. Permaculture is a global grassroots development philosophy and sustainability movement that encompasses a set of ethical principles and design guidelines/techniques for creating sustainable, permanent culture and agriculture. Bioregionalism proposes that economic activities should be constrained by ecological boundaries rather than arbitrary political divisions. It proposes a re-grounding of culture and community within particular watersheds and biotic communities. We do not limit our areas of interest to ecovillages that often explicitly incorporate principles of bioregionalism and permaculture, but encourage comparison with peasant livelihoods and sites of alternative food production as traditional applications of ecological principles in practice. How do these grassroots and movements and practices differ from dominant practices in how autonomy, growth, control, possibility, hope and crisis are re-imagined and practised?
Finally, we want to investigate the consequences of practice-oriented research for an environmental epistemology in anthropology. What is the potential of an anthropological public engagement with these grassroots movements? How can we expand our knowledge on sustainability in ways that complement and enable us to extend our traditional areas of theoretical and practical expertise? What are the consequences of real engagement with practice-oriented research for anthropology in theory, practice and dissemination?