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Call for papers: Special issue on Degrowth and Environmental justice

Proposal submission deadline: 10th July 2017

 Guest editors: Bengi Akbulut (1), Federico Demaria (2), Julien-François Gerber (3), Joan Martínez-Alier (2)

1 Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
2 Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain
3 International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, Netherlands

Joan Martinez Alier (2012) has argued that “EJOs (environmental justice organizations) are potential allies of the environmental groups in rich countries that criticize the obsession with the narrow economic measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, which defines economic growth in the mainstream and permeates the political sphere. These groups form the degrowth movement (Latouche 2007), whose origins partly lie in the field of ecological economics.”

Both environmental justice (EJ) and degrowth groups question the idea of development based on economic growth, and at times even the notion of development itself (Kothari et al 2015). They oppose certain socio metabolic re-configurations and the uneven distribution of benefits and burdens associated with them (Martinez Alier 2002; D’Alisa et al 2015). In this special issue, we propose to explore these and other dimensions of the relationship between degrowth and environmental justice: be them political, like the rapprochement of climate justice, anti-coal mining and degrowth (or postwachstum) movements in Germany; or theoretical, where various cross-fertilisations between degrowth and EJ movements can be explored, such as the traversing and cross-mobilization of concepts across the two (e.g. degrowth concepts of autonomy, simplicity or care; or EJ concepts of ecological debt, ecological unequal exchange or popular epidemiology). 

The special issue also aims to explore aspects of all type of alliances between these two frames (or movements), and potentially also with other movements such as commons, feminisms, spiritual ecology, post-extractivism and post-development. It is based upon the assumption that these communities of research and activism share a common quest for radical socio-ecological transformations towards justice and sustainability, and that an alliance among them is essential. Questions to be expored by papers include (but are not limited to): Which commonalities and differences exist among these different theoretical and political communities? How could this be turn into an enriching diversity, rather than a source of division? How shall we envision theoretical and political confluences, without subordination?

The special issue is framed by five propositions – or ‘theses’ – that we introduce to capture the key aspects of the organic relationship between degrowth and the EJ movement (ideally, we would expect paper proposals to relate to at least one of these theses). We argue, in particular, that the EJ movement and the degrowth critique are materialist but also more than just materialist in scope (thesis I) and that both degrowth and EJ seek a politico-metabolic reconfiguration of our economies (thesis II). Perhaps more fundamentally, we argue that both degrowth and EJ seek consequential as well as deontological justice (thesis III), and that degrowth and EJ are deeply complementary: EJ has not developed a unified and broader theoretical roadmap while degrowth has largely failed so far to connect with a wider social movement (thesis IV). Finally, we end with contending that the degrowth-EJ alliance emphasizes the contradiction between capitalist growth versus living conditions in the community (thesis V), as opposed to Marxism’s capital vs. labour contradiction, which leaves room for alliances with a larger number of economic actors than just wage-labourers.


Authors of prospective papers for the special issue are invited to submit via e-mail to the Guest Editors, on or before the 10th of July 2017, a proposal in the form of the article template (pasted here below), with an extended abstract of approximately 500 words outlining the content and aims of the proposed paper.

Proposals are to be submitted via e-mail to email hidden; JavaScript is required and should include a list of core and other relevant references (not included in the word count). Authors will be notified no later than July 30, 2017 as to the status of their proposals.

Guests editors will submit the overall proposal for the Special Issue to the Journal Ecological Economics.

Indicatively, full manuscripts will need to be submitted by the end of 2017 and the issue should be published by the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019.

For more information, please contact the Guest Editors at email hidden; JavaScript is required

ARTICLE PROPOSAL TEMPLATE: Special issue on Environmental justice and degrowth (roughly 100 words per section)

Abstract (Max 500 words)
Context and motivation/rationale
Research questions
Literatures and contribution
Conceptual/theoretical framework (if applicable)
Hypotheses or main arguments
Methods used (if applicable)
Evidence to support hypotheses or main arguments (if applicable)
How is it relevant to the overall special issue? In particular, does it relate to any of the five theses? In case, how?


D’Alisa G, Demaria F, Kallis G (eds) (2014) Degrowth. A vocabulary for a new era. Routledge. Taylor and Francis, New York

Kallis, G., J. Martinez-Alier, and R.B. Norgaard (2009) Paper assets, real debts: An ecological economic exploration of the global economic crisis. Critical Perspectives on International Business 5 (1/2): 14-25.
Kothari, A., Demaria, F. and Acosta, A. Green economy, sustainable development, and radical well-being alternatives. Development 57(3-4)

Latouche, S. 2007. Le pari de la decroissance. Paris: Fayard.

Martínez-Alier, Joan (2012) Environmental Justice and Economic Degrowth: An Alliance between Two Movements. Capitalism Nature and Socialism 23:1, 51-73

Martínez-Alier, Joan (2002) The environmentalism of the poor: A study of ecological conflicts and valuation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

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