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Scientific paper

Degrowth, global asymmetries, and ecosocial justice: Decolonial perspectives from Latin America

Miriam Lang

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Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Review of International Studies


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Degrowth literature predominantly states that degrowth strategies are meant from and for the Global North.
While economic mainstream discourse suggests that the Global South still has to grow in terms of achieving
development, degrowth proponents expect a reduction of material and energy throughput in the Global
North to make ecological and conceptual space for the Global South to find its own paths toward ecosocial
transformation. Based on a Latin American post-development and post-extractivist perspective and drawing
on dependency theory, this article suggests another approach: first, it argues that the growth imperative,
which in the peripheral world translates into the imperative to develop, also causes harm in societies of the
Global South. Throughout Latin America, in the last decades, economic growth has mainly been achieved
through extractivism with negative impacts, which are now being pushed further by green growth strategies.
Second, I explore some possibilities for a cross-fertilisation between degrowth and International Relations
scholarship, calling into question the assumption that degrowth in high-income countries would automatically
‘make space’ for the Global South to engage in self-determined paths of ecosocial transformation,
as long as the structures, institutions, and rules of global governance and trade which secure profoundly
asymmetric, colonial relations are not challenged.

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