A ‘return forward’?
The potential of traditional popular culture for a degrowth transition
Within degrowth there is so far a limited and unproductive understanding of Western 'traditional popular culture', previously studied as 'folklore'. It is understood either as a past of hardship overcome by modernity, or as a repository of "sustainable" ancestral practices to be preserved as remnants of the past. In this paper I argue that in the so-called "popular culture" of the Global North there can also be found living contesting and anti-hegemonic elements, as well as prefigurative practices, which represent alternatives to the growth-based development model. So far, the field of degrowth and the discipline in charge of the study of "popular culture" par excellence, anthropology, have had a very limited relationship. I present the school of anthropological thought based on Gramsci's ideas, which opens a more productive way of thinking about popular culture and its role in a degrowth transition, followed by four examples of Spanish traditions aligned with degrowth, with the aim of offering a preliminary research agenda for a "return-forward" degrowth project.