SS21. Spaces for Degrowth: Transforming existing spaces and infrastructures for degrowth as a challenge of the repoliticisation of spatial planning

Conceptualising the spaces and geographies of degrowth has accompanied the debate on degrowth since its beginning. In recent years, a specific literature has emerged that reflects systematically on the urban, rural, and planning implications of degrowth, both in terms of its critique of the capitalist growth-oriented reality and its proposal for a socio-ecological transformation, relating to literatures such as (critical) geography and spatial design and planning. From an initial focus on a few themes like localism and housing, a wide field of research has evolved that touches multi-faceted aspects through very diverse research approaches. The special track "Spaces for Degrowth: Researching and transforming cities and territories" brings together these aspects in a structured debate, organised by many of its protagonists. It tries both to take stock of the state of the art of the debate and to push it further, academically and in dialogue with practitioners.

  • Expected proposals format: conventional panel contributions
  • Keywords: Space, Geography, Cities, Rural areas, Social Justice, Ecological Sustainability
  • Related track(s): None (new track)
  • Organizers: Cristiano, Silvio (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy); Sekulova, Filka (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain); Savini, Federico (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands); Xue, Jin (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway)

Full description

A primary prerequisite for post-growth urban or spatial development is to limit or even halt new construction of buildings and infrastructure. Transforming existing spaces and infrastructures should be the primary planning endeavour if we take finity seriously and discussions about them are part of the degrowth goal of re-politicising socio-ecological discourses. Yet, existing spaces and infrastructures (low-density suburbs, pipelines, airports, highways, large-scale industrial farming etc.) tend to lock urbanisation into economic growth. Transformations can take diverse forms, e. g., removal, improving, restructuring and should regard various scales from dismantling some large-scale infrastructures to redesigning individual dwellings. However, planning as institutionalised practice is not geared towards transforming existing spaces rather than building new and while degrowth often focused on ‘convivial and democratic infrastructures’ for sufficiency, it has not yet addressed the political-regulatory challenge of transforming existing spaces and infrastructures. For instance, participatory processes in urban planning appear as occasions for socio-ecological transformation but often, in practice, are built narrowly as formal, institutionalised processes of information, consultation and deliberation. Whereas degrowth perspectives challenge assumptions that a good life for all requires continuous growth and endless spatial development. Processes of transformation which need to be differentiated between Global South (or the Majority world) and Global North.

The format will be that of very short presentations with abundant time for well-moderated discussions.