Ecovillages: new ways of living, as old as the world
(University "Bicocca", Milan)
Paper short abstract:
Ecovillages are utopian communities where new solutions to the contemporary social, political, economic and ecological crisis are daily experimented, gleaning visions and practices from a pre-industrial heritage to achieve a more just and sustainable life than the one proposed by the modern idea of progress
Paper long abstract:
The recent financial and economic crisis has raised many social, ethical and environmental issues that some Western citizens have decided to face with an extreme choice: giving up everything and moving to the country to create or join an ideal community. My paper focuses especially on the ecovillage network, a movement of intentional and sustainable laboratories where new ways of inhabiting, building, provisioning and communicating are daily experimented, in order to diminish the ecological footprints as well as the frustrations and the injustices connected with the capitalistic system. Anthropology has barely looked upon the wide reality of ecovillages as yet, regardless of the amount of interesting theoretical bridges between them, such as the problematization of human-nature relationship, the active role of boundaries in rethinking society, the engagement in finding solutions for a more fair and sustainable world. Arose from an ongoing research in three Italian case studies of intentional communities, my paper will try to highlight these fruitful interconnections analysing non-scientific literature about ecovillages, together with anthropological perspectives about solutions-oriented social movements and networks, re-conceptualizations of the inhabited space and the relation with nature and the surrounding environment. I argue that this kind of utopian experiences use traditional knowledge, values and practices to re-conceptualize the Western narrative concerning well-being, progress and development. An example could be the achievement of an ethical economy based on self-production, sharing and recycling, in open contrast with the rules of the global consumerism.
Traditional knowledge as the key for sustainable rural development: utopia or reality?