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Degrowth Vienna 2020 - Relations of Care: ethics and food production in Europe

Wendy Harcourt, Anna Katharina Voss, Rosa de Nooijer

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Vienna Conference 2020


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Presentation [part of the standard session "Territories, Resources and Care Work Feminist Perspectives on Transformation"]

The Corona crisis has unprecedentedly highlighted the topic of this session: care work got visibility, its systemic relevance gained public recognition as never before. The appalling shortage of health care workers and the deficiencies in public health systems due to restructuring towards profit orientation and cost saving measures in the context of privatisation and globalisation became obvious. These systemic flaws aggravated the ongoing crisis of social reproduction towards a crisis of survival of societies. The pandemic also challenges the prevailing relation of human domination over nature and over bodies in the context of a growth-obsessed economy. The virus exposes the vulnerability of bodies and societies. It points at the destruction of ecosystems and of species due to the rapid expansion of industrial monocultures in agriculture, the encroachment of land, forest and water bodies. Thus, it shows the need to recognise the obstinacy of nature and to organise everyday life as a bio- and eco-social, and as a collective process saying farewell to the fiction of total control of nature. Therefore the crisis nurtures demands for a caring economy based on commons and oriented towards a good life for everybody. In everyday life people experienced that solidarity is an absolute necessity to cope with crisis situations. On the backdrop of a concept of feminist political economy and ecology which places the logic of care towards humans and nature at the centre of transformative strategies women resist a violent extractivist development model and a patriarchal-capitalist model of competition and individual utility maximisation. The session deals with different situations of violence: control over bodies and territories, and dispossession of land, livelihoods, resources and diversity. The focus is on everyday practices and politics of (re)production of environments, and of reclaiming and transforming spaces, territories and narratives vis-à-vis resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food. In these critical situations and in critical places, the logic of caring and care work towards humans and nature link material und discursive production and reproduction while co-producing genders, natures and bodies. As Wendy Harcourt has highlighted, place-based everyday politics are about resistance but also about reinvention of practices, opportunities and commons as we move towards emancipatory and transformative politics. For these politics and strategies, growth in terms of ever increasing GDP is not the goal. The session will look at care work in our social-nature entanglements that promote social and gender justice, equality and alternative forms of knowing and acting.

Presenters: Wendy Harcourt (ISS, Den Hague), Anna Katharina Voss (ISS), Rosa de Nooijer (ISS)

Language: English

Technical details: WENDY_HARCOURT_SP K_NEW.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 279MB

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