The Cultural Politics of Degrowth -- key conversation at the International Degrowth Conference in The Hague (Netherlands), 24-28 August 2021

Miriam Meissner's picture
Call for Papers
August 24, 2021 to August 28, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies


Dear H-Net Community,


We are excited to invite you to participate in a key conversation on the Cultural Politics of Degrowth at the International Degrowth Conference "Caring Communities for Radical Change" that will take place in the Hague between 24-28 August 2021.


When degrowth advocates discuss the role of culture in degrowth politics, they often envision it in terms of prefiguration: the act of performing in the present what future degrowth lifeways would look like. In this context, cultural practices - such as community gardening or voluntary simplicity - are supposed to inspire. They provide real-life proof for the fact that degrowth-aligned lifeways exist already, that they are numerous and diverse, and that they make people happy.


This key conversation seeks to broaden the perspective on culture in degrowth politics. Cultural practice can do more than prove and inspire. It can play an active and strategic role in degrowth politics. We therefore welcome contributions that debate, envision, create and try out cultural tactics for degrowth politics.


Cultural tactics are understood here in a broad and inclusive sense. They refer to any practice that strategically mobilizes cultural forms, values, narratives and identities for a degrowth transition of society. Examples include but are not limited to: Mobilizing trends in popular culture - such as minimalism or mindfulness - for a degrowth vision of social change. Building coalitions between diverse cultural identities for a degrowth movement. Creating stories and artworks for degrowth campaigning. Inventing art-actions and performances for degrowth activism. The list goes on.


Both practical and theoretical approaches are welcome. A central practical aim of this key conversation is to establish a prolific repertoire of cultural tactics for degrowth campaigning and activism. A central theoretical aim is to better understand the relationship between cultural practice and degrowth politics. As it stands, this relationship sometimes poses a hen-and-egg question: what comes first, the political reform or revolution of social institutions and political economies, or the rearticulation of cultural values, rituals and ideologies. While most degrowth advocates would probably argue that both go hand in hand, it is still quite obscure how his process works and - importantly - how it can be influenced. 


This key conversation considers culture as a key site of political struggle and transformation. Following this perspective, the political struggle between growth and degrowth is always simultaneously about policies and ideologies, legal regulations and everyday habits, democratic bodies and embodied identities, grand visions and mundane aesthetics. Through analysis and creativity, we can explore these various entanglements, and - in so doing - build an effective and diverse cultural politics for degrowth.


You will find more information about the conference in our open call for participation. We warmly invite you to share it within your network and join us next August!


For more information do not hesitate to contact us.


Miriam Meissner

On behalf of the Organizing Committee


Contact Info: 

Miriam Meissner (organizer of the key conversation "Cultural Politics of Degrowth" and member of the overall Organizing Committee of the International Degrowth Conference "Caring Communities for Radical Change")