Endless economic growth on a finite planet is impossible. This is the premise behind the degrowth movement. Despite this sound rationale, the degrowth movement has struggled to gain political acceptability. We have sought to understand this limited uptake of degrowth discourse in the English-speaking world by interviewing Canadian activists. Activists have a proximity to the political realm – both with its barriers and openings – that scholars working primarily in academic institutions sometimes lack. Our interviews reveal that class interests – particularly those of fossil fuel companies – are a substantial barrier to realizing degrowth goals. Interviewees highlighted the importance of centring class-conscious environmentalism, ‘anti-purity’ politics, and decolonization as essential parts of a degrowth agenda capable of overcoming these class interests. We conclude by unpacking how the Green New Deal – a discourse and movement that gained considerable traction after we completed our interviews – addresses the obstacles shared by our interviewees, thus making it a promising ‘non-reformist reform’ for the degrowth movement to pursue.
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Claire O'Manique, James K Rowe and Karena Shaw
Economic and Legal Considerations
Manuel W. Haussner
Despite the fact that Ecuador has arguably the most biocentric constitution in the world, deepening national investment in extractive development projects has left communities on the frontlines of these projects desperate for greater participation in decision-making processes currently monopolized by centralized ministries. The result has been a flourishing over the past two years of sub-national judicial and non-judicial challenges to strategic mining projects. Integral to these challenges is the constitutional language of rights for nature (Articles 71–4). Drawing on ethnographic research around the Río Blanco gold and silver mine in the southern highland province of Azuay, this article explores the diverse and surprising ways in which these environmental rights are being taken up as part of fundamental challenges to the decision-making monopolies of the Ministries of the Environment and of Mining. While numerous scholars of human and indigenous rights have recently lamented the fact that ‘rights-talk’ often appears unable to arrest or destabilize extractive imperatives, the case of Río Blanco suggests that, when embraced as part of wider social struggles for representation, rights-based approaches might be more potent than is currently being recognized. They may even encourage an important reorientation of some of the binaries that continue to preoccupy critical scholars of development.
Edited by Anna Grear
The scale and ubiquity of global industrialized mining and its proportionately negative impact on human rights and the environment is well documented. These costly externalities, taken in the context of increasing demand for mined materials in technical applications such as mobile phones and other devices seen as essential to contemporary commerce and communication, focalize a range of contentious issues and complexities. This article argues that mining, as an instance of instrumentalism in the human–earth relationship and in many human–human relations, exposes the reason/nature dualism underlying western ontological assumptions. Key features of dualism are described and implicated for their role in the oppression and exploitation of both human and non-human Others. A map drawn from critical ecological feminism outlining an escape route out of dualism is unfolded and brought together with the onto-ethico-epistemology of agential realism in an effort to discover possibilities for a new western social imaginary of non-dualism. The art of Lee Harrop featuring engraved core samples from mining exploration is deployed as a productive site for thinking through non-dualising implications arising from science and new materialisms.