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Anthropology is at a crossroads as a damaged world reels from climate crises and widening inequalities. The discipline struggles with moving from critique to an emancipatory agenda. The panel reflects on degrowth and wellbeing as alternative pathways for repairing, healing and rebuilding our planet.
Anthropology finds itself at the crossroads. Critical questions arise as a damaged world reels from climate crises, planetary degradation at an existential scale, and alarmingly widening socio-economic inequalities. These issues deeply challenge the discipline’s ability to move from scholarly engagement and deconstruction of interlocking crises, to an activist agenda of re-construction of an equitable, resilient and ecologically-healthy world. While anthropological critique has advanced robust diagnosis of the causes of emergent issues in an era of GDP-centric globalization (i.e. power relations and discourses enabling human over-consumption, resource extraction, elite capture, fossil fuel burning, institutional failures, policy disconnects, colonial continuities, austerity measures, etc.), and excelled in documenting in fine-grained ethnographic detail the struggles and resultant effects of climate and other crises (i.e. carbon emissions, species extinction, disappearing field sites, vanishing indigenous life-worlds, extreme inequalities, land grabs, dehumanization of labour, etc.), it has struggled to forge an activist agenda, with notable exceptions. This panel explores anthropological and social-scientific engagement with the themes of planet and relations. It examines the challenges and potential of moving beyond deconstruction and critique, towards an emancipatory politics that engages anthropological knowledge and methodology in actively envisioning, anticipating, negotiating and forging alternative futures. The panel reflects on the potential of building alliances with other disciplines, degrowth and decolonial movements, and wellbeing alternatives from Bhutan and beyond. It argues for the urgent need to repair and rebuild a more equitable, resilient and habitable world, while taking into account diverse needs of all sentient beings we share our precious planet with.