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Individual Paper: More-than-human entanglements in sustainable living experiments: experiences from degrowth center Can Decreix in Cerbère, France

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More-than-human entanglements in sustainable living experiments: experiences from degrowth center Can Decreix in Cerbère, France

This conference paper is concerned with understanding empirically the workings of the degrowth center Can Decreix (CD) in Cerbère, France and the ways in which such projects hold transformative potential for larger segments of society. Can Decreix is explicitly concerned with the reduction of ‘unsustainable’ objects and the ‘transformation of fruits, vegetables, constructions, societies and with testing frugal technologies, arts and agro-ecology’ (degrowth.org). This conference paper argues that understandings of sustainable living experiments have often been obstructed by the pervasive ontological separations between nature/society and mind/body, and that instead it is necessary to focus on their more-than-human dimension. Conducting four months of ethnographic fieldwork in CD as part of my PhD thesis, I will focus on three key aspects that are crucial to understanding how such places hold transformative potential for larger segments of society. First, an attentiveness to the more sustainable entanglements that inhabitants form with particular non-humans can give clues about how to encourage sustainable practices more widely. Studying the co-constitutive role of non-humans in shaping life and politics in a space that already radically re-imagines and performs sustainability differently can thereby contribute to a better understanding of how some humans are able to form attachments to more sustainable objects, and become detached to other less sustainable ones. Secondly, studying the interrelationship between affects and environmental ethics can contribute to a clearer understanding of the inhabitants’ motivations to join and continuously live in an eco-community. Thinking through the role of affect and relational ethics in the context of sustainable living experiment is particularly important, given that CD inhabitants contradict classical arguments in liberal political theory that seem to suggest that ‘the minimisation of effort is a precondition for public participation’ (Marres 2012: 4), including around environmental issues. Finally, following closely how experimentally derived knowledges, practices and ideas about sustainable futures that are imagined in one place travel to another can aid a more nuanced understanding of ‘scaling up’ and attend to the transformations the take place along the way.

Info

Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ABF (Stora Salen)
Track: Critical Social Theories

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