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Feola Giuseppe | Fellow Visitor
2022-04-11 - 2022-04-15 | Research area: Sustainability Research
The Schismogenic Hypothesis: Conceptualizing Grassroots Sustainability Transformation as a Process of Conscious Self-Determination by Differentiation

Theorizations of sustainability transformation have foregrounded the construction (making) of novel socioecological relations; however, they generally have obscured processes of deliberate deconstruction (unmaking) of existing, unsustainable ones. Amidst ever more compelling evidence of the simultaneous unsustainability and continued reproduction of capitalist modernity, it is misguided to assume that transformation can happen by the mere construction of supposed ‘solutions’, be they technological, social or cultural. We rather need to better understand whether and how existing institutions, forms of knowledge, practices, imaginaries, power structures, and human-non-human relations can be deconstructed or disabled at the service of sustainability transformation. This talk demonstrates the usefulness of a lens that attends to processes of making and unmaking in sustainability transformations through an analysis of cases of grassroots initiatives that concretely prefigure sustainable and just alternatives to capitalism. This talk identifies processes of unmaking of capitalism in illustrative agri-food grassroots initiatives in Europe and Colombia, and demonstrates how they are concretely entangled in the construction of post-capitalist socioeconomic and socioecological relations. Central to this is the dialogue between theories from as diverse fields as sustainability transitions, degrowth, political ecology, decolonial and indigenous, resistance, anarchist, and cultural studies scholarship. The talk concludes by proposing, as a way of synthesis, a conceptualization of grassroots initiatives as schismogenic processes – processes of conscious self-determination by differentiation. This allows to formulate novel hypotheses and research questions on the generative forces underpinning making and unmaking and enabling directionality of grassroots sustainability transformation.