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Individual Paper: Challenges surrounding the symbolic violence of the ecological transition and social conflict in French agriculture: a case study in the French village of Tremargat, Côtes d’Armor

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Tremargat is a small village of 200 inhabitants, located in the center of Brittany,heavily impacted by the rural exodus after the 2nd world war. The village has been revitalized through the “Back-to-the-land” movement, which reached its peak in the 1970’s. The first generation that established themselves launched a virtuous circle, in turn leading to subsequent waves of new farmers attracted by an alternative agricultural model.

Most of these “peasants” - as they usually name themselves - are small-scale farmers who embrace peasantry not only as a job but as their lifestyle. Many of them relate their actions to the degrowth movement. As a result, Tremargat is seen as a fertile ground for culture and agriculture.
Tremargat is characterized by the vitality of its associations and social bonds.

After winning the municipal elections, alternative grassroot movements from the village developed ecological policies visible in the layout of public spaces : local grocery shops managed by inhabitants, collective work programs to redesign the town, etc. Since the 1990’s, this proactive political approach has permitted a population increase of 40 %. The alternative identity of Tremargat has been widely publicized: the village renowned at the national scale in the ecologist movements and beyond. This is in large part due to extensive media coverage, which portrayed the territory as a “concrete utopia”, a small island resisting in a region mainly dominated by intensive agriculture.

These developments progressively drove out the conventional farmers and erased industrial agrarian methods from the public image of the village. However, practices such as the use of pesticides of hunting still exist in the village and bring about a high level of social conflict.

Instead of being a role model for best practices in the surrounding area, Tremargat contributes to the consolidation of a stigma and the polarization of the dialogue. The neighboring communities, threatened by desertification, loss of public services and stigmatization of conventional agricultural practices suffer substantially from the idealizing discourse regarding the ecological success story of Tremargat. This case-study allows for the questioning of the non-violent -including symbolic violence- ambition of Degrowth activism in its concrete application.

Info

Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 11:15
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Conference room)
Track: Degrowth: Culture, Power and Change

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