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Return(s) to the land and their degrowth potential 
Ieva Snikersproge (University of Neuchâtel)
Andrew Flachs (Purdue University)
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Great Hall
Thursday 28 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to explore current agrarian initiatives in all their diversity (urban gardening, new peasantries, food sovereignty, etc.) and reflect on insights that these initiatives provide for a transition to a sustainable, low-energy society focused on human wellbeing, not profit-making.

Long Abstract:

An agrarian ethos proposing that life was better in the country than in the city emerged in the 19th century to counter urban industrialization. It provides a multi-faceted critique of modernity that idealises life in the countryside as more natural, authentic, free, and virtuous than life in the city. Throughout the last two centuries, the agrarian myth has inspired various back-to-the-land movements from religious currents such as Anabaptists to utopian communities, more individual transcendentalist experiments and the 1970s countercultural communes. The present moment, characterised by the superposition of various crises - health, economic, political, and ecological - is reviving the desire to engage in agrarian activities. Urban-to-rural migration, prosumers, urban gardening, alternative food networks, new peasantries, and initiatives aimed at achieving food sovereignty are all but some examples of this growing interest.

This panel would like to bring together papers that describe present-day "returns to the land" in all their diversity: who participates in these initiatives, how their participants attach meaning to their activities, and how these initiatives inscribe in the larger society. Moreover, the panellists are invited to reflect on what kinds of insights these initiatives provide for a transition to a degrowth society, understood as sustainable, low-energy society focused on human wellbeing, not production of profit: How do these initiatives imagine "good life"? What energy and other material resources are necessary to keep these initiatives going? What limits their capacity to be up-scaled?

Keywords: agrarianism, degrowth, ecological transition, good life

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -