Version 3.2

Degrowth in an African Periphery: Recentering Decoloniality around Ecocentric and Circular Ontologies

Keynote lecture

The hegemonic capitalist system likes to argue that endless growth is possible, that if you work hard enough, you too can have your mansion with blue swimming pool and lush green lawns,
gas-guzzlers in the garage and maybe a football team in one of the top European leagues. Unrelenting cultural hegemony messaging is churned out to co-opt enough people to join the impossible rat race to the top of the consumerism matrix. But make no mistake: hegemonic
capitalism is both the creator and consequence of brutal exploitation of black, brown and white bodies, women’s backs, nature and all the commons that we were all meant to enjoy equally. This architecture of bottomless greed reorganised power relations pertaining to land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship away from people-owned circular, ecocentric commons in favour of selfish, soulless, individualistic & anthropocentric relationships.

There is no doubt that the climate crisis we are witnessing today is a direct consequence of hegemonic capitalism. The pervasive hegemonic anthropocentric ontology powered the British-
centred food regime, the industrial revolution, post-World War II expansionism, the American-led food regime, the modern financialised food-regime and everything else in-between. The
climate crisis confluences with a multitude of other crises – mental crisis, solitude crisis, identity crisis, green colonialism and usurping of customary lands, etc. – to create a post-Covid reckoning in which more and more young people are saying: no more! Far from being limited to the Global North, capital and corporatisation has expanded its frontier of accumulation to so-called emerging and underdeveloped countries in the Global South.

In this perspective, the degrowth debate invites itself to the Global South, not in the sense of litigating levels of consumption in affluent societies, but rather to dismantle the global architecture of exploitation that sucks the lifeblood of the Global South in order to provide the Global North with cheap meat and cheap electronics. This paper argues that the current anthropocentric ontology is quickly taking us to the edge of a cliff - the point of no return – and the only thing that can help us avert certain disaster is an ethnocentric degrowth ontology within a new internationalism.


Day: 2023-08-30
Start time: 15:00
Duration: 01:00
Room: ZV-KC-1
Type: Special Session
Theme: Keynote


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