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Book/Special Issue Presentation: Degrowth and technology – enemies or friends

Highlights of degrowth research

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This session will address how degrowth research and activism is currently approaching technology and how it should be approached in the future.
We propose a moderated discussion among a selection of researchers, who examined relationships between degrowth and technology in depth from various angles in the forthcoming special issue on degrowth and technology in the Journal of Cleaner Production (Kerschner et al. 2018). All articles are already published as in press. The editorial will be published before the conference.

Researchers who agreed to join the plenary discussion include:

1) Dr Pasi Heikkurinen, who is Lecturer at the Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds, with a research focus on responsibility and technology for sustainable organisation, draws on phenomenological philosophy of technology and science and technology studies more broadly. In the plenary discussion, Pasi will emphasise the need for a new ethics, when engaging with technological instruments and practices in the current age of technology. He will argue for a degrowth ethos based on classical moral theory, but also point at some of its limitations from an eco-phenomenological perspective that he is working on.

2) Andrea Vetter, who is a researcher and activist at Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Leipzig, Germany. She works on convivial technology and developed a Matrix of Convivial Technology for qualitative technology assessment from a degrowth perspective. She will argue that a degrowth position on technology needs to question positive mainstream techno-imaginaries such as self- driving cars and instead promote new techno-imaginaries of convivial, related, accessible, adaptable and appropriate technologies.

3) Prof Roger Strand, who is Professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at University of Bergen. His research covers philosophy of natural, medical and environmental science, ethics of emerging technology, with a focus on uncertainty and complexity in the science-society interface. He will critique current narratives of innovation and emphasises that technologies and the politics around them rest on constructions of sociotechnical imaginaries.

4) Dr Hug March, who is a Research Fellow at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya with a focus on urban water infrastructure and the political ecology and economy of urbanisation and new urban imaginaries. He will delineate possibilities of a dialogue between
technology and degrowth, drawing on the example of the smart city.

5) Dr Barbara Muraca, if she can participate virtually. She is Assistant Professor at the
College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University where she applies environmental philosophy to degrowth and sustainability. In the plenary discussion, Barbara will emphasise the differences between ecological economics and political ecology approaches towards technology. She will argue that their distinct critiques of technology and the technological alternatives they suggest have some contradictions.

6) Dr Silja Samerski, who is researcher at the Institute of Anthropology and Cultural Studies, University of Bremen, and was personal assistant of Ivan Illich. In the plenary discussion, Silja will draw on Ivan Illich and argue that digital technology can never be controlled. Instead it controls us, among others, because its symbolic power is that strong that we are adapting our imaginaries, matters of course, practices and goals to digital technologies with ease. She will illustrate this with examples from health technologies that create more and more needs for intervention, prevention and control, which increases growth (of technology).

Unlike the traditional number of four speakers, we will use a special format to facilitate an interesting discussion, among six selected discussants (or five, if a virtual participation of Barbara Muraca is not feasible), who we hope to be able to come.

Melf-Hinrich Ehlers and Dr Christian Kerschner moderate the discussion.

Christian is assistant professor at Masaryk University. Together with Melf-Hinrich Ehlers, who is researcher and lecturer at Kassel University, he publishes on attitudes towards technology in the sustainability context. Christian is the lead editor of the forthcoming special issue Degrowth and Technology and Melf-Hinrich Ehlers a co-author.


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 16:00
Duration: 02:00
Room: Nöjesteatern (Theater)
Track: - Other - (fill submission note below)



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