Individual Paper: Complementarity between EJ movement and degrowth in the European southern semiperiphery
Inspired by the thesis that „both degrowth and the environmental justice (EJ) movement share a common quest for profound socio-ecological transformations towards justice and sustainability, and that an alliance among these research and activist communities is essential” (Akbulut et al. forthcoming), this paper presents the findings of empirical research with prominent Croatian EJ movement leaders concerning this alliance as seen from their professional practice. We present EJ in the Croatian context through two conceptual frames – its semiperipheral position and the specific ecological distribution conflicts (EDC) characteristic of the post-socialist metabolism in Europe. We start by presenting Croatia’s EJ movement’s specific historical trajectory different from similar movements in the core European societies, followed by overview of recent analyses that indicate a specific combination of strategies (Dolenec et al., 2017) currently used and international networking in the movement’s socially transformative activism. Given the global strengthening of voices for ‘prosperity without growth’ and a worldwide rise of environmental conflicts, the conceptual and practical alignment between EJ movement and degrowth is a likely next step in transformative action. We find that in this specific context there is currently limited, but positive potential for degrowth to provide a theoretical framework for EJ movement in Croatia. This potential is most firmly established in the environmental impact aspect of degrowth (‘the impossibility theorem’), rather than awareness of its calls for redistribution and conviviality transition (Cosme, Sanots and O'Neill 2017). The potential to connect degrowth as theory and EJ as movement is explicitly assented to, but enjoined by various cautions. Furthermore both EJ movement and degrowth are seen as sharing a materialist motivation, not stemming from poverty of the semiperipheral societies, but from an understanding of the materialist base of the contemporary global ecological crisis and the resultant injustices. Though the activists interviewed don't as yet see degrowth as offering a sufficient and cogent elaboration of a workable politico-metabolic reconfiguration, their views of the “alliance among these research and activist communities” suggests an openness to a political proposals rooted in the degrowth imaginary.
Start time: 11:00
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Expanding Geographies of Degrowth