Degrowth from the East I
Degrowth is often thought of as one ‘movement’, 'community' or conversation, which emerged in Western Europe in the 1970s and has been spreading both within academia and activist practice over the last decade. However, related ideas and activism take root very differently in different places (e.g. degrowth hotspots in Southern Europe). Debates also take place around whether degrowth is relevant only to the overdeveloped countries of the global North, or if it holds lessons and radical implications for societies North and South alike.
With this session, we approach such debates from the angle of the 'East', specifically post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
Degrowth conversations often portray so-called (semi-)peripheral countries as fodder for extractive capitalism, but in what ways are they also lively sites of postcapitalist alternatives? What community economies and degrowth practices already exist, can be learned from, and brought together? And what distinctive cultures and traditions in CEE regions can be built upon for navigating degrowth pathways?
It is clear that differences in socio-political systems, histories and cultures require different approaches for degrowth. During this session, we will explore the unique ways in which CEE countries relate to ideas of degrowth, and discuss transformation in regions already having the experience of sweeping economic disruption in their living memory. Finally, we will encourage dialogue about how various post-socialist experiences influence – if at all – contemporary activism for degrowth and heterodox economics.
The session will consists of several paper presentations based on authors' engagement with degrowth activism and heterodox economies, followed by ample space for discussion. This empirically oriented session is complemented by our second special session where we hope to bring together theoretical engagements with the position(ality) of CEE in postcapitalist imaginaries.