Logo degrowth
Scientific paper


Beyond (anti)utilitarianism: khat and alternatives to growth in northern Madagascar

Lisa L. Gezon

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Journal of Political Ecology


External content:
To the content

Keywords: Madagascar, khat, utilitarian, degrowth, economy, urban

Abstract: Madagascar has one of the lowest GDPs in the world. Colonization brought the country into the global economy, but left it at its margins—vulnerable to the hardships of structural adjustment and limitations of state infrastructure. This analysis reveals economic decision-making that defies the utilitarian logic of homo economicus and inspires creative thinking about alternatives to growth as a dominant paradigm. In northern Madagascar, the economy of the stimulant khat is part of one socionatural world characterized by low levels of production and consumption. Madagascar provides a case study for suggesting that "making a living" invokes an intricate web of material desires, cultural meaning, and social connections that do not necessarily revolve around a capitalist growth motive. This article proposes that a path to sustainability is not only in changing social imaginaries but also in valorizing and leveraging cognitive orientations and practices that exist but that may fall below the radar of traditional economic analysis.

Journal of Political Ecology 24: 582-594.

This is the ninth article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. "Degrowth, culture and power", Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-666.

> Introduction and overview over other articles of the Special Section

Share on the corporate technosphere