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Rethinking 'degrowth' from Africa 
Lys Alcayna-Stevens (KU Leuven)
Branwyn Poleykett (UVA)
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Anthropology (x) Futures (y)
Hauptgebäude, Hörsaal XIII
Saturday 3 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

'Degrowth' is a term increasingly mobilized by scholars, activists, and policy makers to question the hegemony of economic growth. This panel proposes a reflection on current debates on degrowth, thinking through empirical and theoretical cases with activists and thinkers working in and from Africa.

Long Abstract:

'Degrowth' is a term increasingly mobilized by scholars, activists, and policy makers to question the hegemony of economic growth, and to propose a radical reorganization of society premised on reduced energy and resource consumption, autonomy, care, and sufficiency. Currently, this utopian vision primarily circulates in the Global North, and lacks a sustained engagement with colonial histories and their legacies of harm. Furthermore, the term itself is often unappealing in the Global South because of its perceived connotations with poverty, scarcity, romantic luddism, and economic recession.

This panel proposes to stimulate reflection on degrowth in Africa, and invites panelists to engage empirically and/or theoretically with degrowth imaginaries, politics, and practices in relation to food, agriculture, energy infrastructures, and environmental and social activism - as well as their impacts on contemporary African ecologies, economies, and societies. Achille Mbembe has described Africa as the 'last frontier of capitalism' - can imaginaries of degrowth offer an alternative to green extractivism and the new scramble for Africa? Can degrowth theory offer new ways of 'unthinking development' (Ndlovu-Gatsheni) and of decolonizing the social imaginary in line with an African utopian philosophy of self-reinvention (Sarr)? How might it echo African citizens' demands for social welfare and other essential public services, or activists' calls for debt cancellation, reparations, and an acknowledgement of the ecological debt of the Global North? In what ways do African societies already embody the degrowth principles of 'commoning', repairing, repurposing, direct democracy, convivial technology, and cooperative agriculture?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -