Accepted paper:

On the production of localities in the degrowth movement


Ana Flavia Badue (Universidade de São Paulo)

Paper short abstract:

“An infinite growth in a finite world is impossible”, claim degrowth activists. The solutions, they say, must be played locally, but alternatives can be found all around the world. The aim of this speech is to analyze how localities (such as North and South) are created and actualized by degrowth ideas and actions.

Paper long abstract:

Environment has become an important issue in political and economical debates around the world. In Europe, mainly in France, some social movements and also academic theories have been debating the perspective of "degrowth". In general, the debates are pervaded by considerations on economic and political growth and the main argument is "infinite growth in a finite world is impossible". According to degrowth activists, to avoid a future catastrophe, economical and political transformations should occur mainly in rich countries because the consumption habits in wealthy nations are more harmful than in the poorer ones. These ideas circulate throughout many militant groups in France (but also in Spain, Italy, Canada). These groups are organized in many different ways and arranged in various spatialities: collectives focused on urban composting, on bicycles and on advertisement, academic groups, newspaper and magazine, political parties, ecological products stores. An ethnographic approach to French degrowth enlightens not only daily lives and militants' experiences but also the social configuration of localities. Terms such as North and South, rich and poor countries, countryside and big cities, permeate degrowth debates and practices. Some policies and social movements from the South (for example the "MST" in Brazil) are conceived as interesting ways of resistance to economic growth. At the same time, political and economic changes are supposed to be local, once great displacements may be ecologically dangerous. This speech aims to map some of these distinctions and to show how they are built by and within degrowth ideas and practices.

panel P313
Practices of environmental justice: negotiating the relation between the social and the ecological sphere