7th International Degrowth Conference is taking place in Manchester (UK), September 1st-5th 2020. We would like to announce a call for academic papers for a special session that would focus on the themes of food, agriculture, rural areas and degrowth.

So far, the degrowth scholarship has engaged with the themes of rurality and agri-food systems primarily through the lens of peasant and environmental movements, foregrounding questions around social mobilization and alliances across movements. However, other important aspects remain to be explored.

First, scholarship connecting degrowth thinking to questions around the future of rural spaces is sparse. Recently, some studies inquiring the development of rural areas have started pointing towards a potential paradigm shift towards degrowth in rural planning (Hayashi 2016; Dax & Fischer 2018).

Second, the existing scholarship linking degrowth and agriculture is limited to some interesting, but isolated analyses (Infante-Amate and Gonzáles de Molina 2013; Gomiero 2018) and case-studies of community-supported agriculture (Bloemmen et al. 2015), agroecology (Boillat et al. 2012) and the Spanish agri-food system. A research agenda on this topic is still missing.

Although we emphasize that rurality cannot be reduced to agriculture, we deem it necessary to consider rurality and agri-food systems together in this session. We invite papers that engage with degrowth, rurality and/or agri-food systems in a conceptual or empirical manner.

Questions to be addressed include:

– Do agroecology or community-supported agriculture exhaust the possible agri-food system models that are consistent with degrowth?

– What does a degrowth transition mean for the countryside/the rural-urban metabolism?

– What social and institutional configurations would support post-growth rural economies and post-growth agri-food systems?

– How might degrowth transitions affect the co-constitution of agri-food systems and rural spaces, and the diversification of the countryside away from the agricultural paradigm?

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Giuseppe Feola (g.feola@uu.nl) by Friday March 13th.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Session convenors: Dr Giuseppe Feola (g.feola@uu.nl), Julia Spanier (j.r.spanier@uu.nl), Jacob Smessaert (j.d.a.smessaert@uu.nl), and Leonie Guerrero Lara (l.guerrerolara@uu.nl), all at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University


– Dax, T., & Fischer, M. (2018). An alternative policy approach to rural development in regions facing population decline. European Planning Studies, 26(2), 297–315.

– Hayashi, T. (2016): Can degrowth transition contribute to the wellbeing of rural residents? Presentation at the at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

– Bloemmen, M., Bobulescu, R., Le, N.T., & Vitari, C. (2015). Microeconomic degrowth: the case of Community Supported Agriculture. Ecological Economics, 112, 110-115.

– Boillat, S., Gerber, J., & Funes-Monzote, F.R. (2012). What economic democracy for degrowth? Some comments on the contribution of socialist models and Cuban agroecology. Futures, 44(6), 600-607.

– Infante-Amate, J., & González de Molina, M. (2013). ‘Sustainable de-growth’ in agriculture and food: an agro-ecological perspective on Spain’s agri-food system (year 2000). Journal of Cleaner Production, 38, 27-35.

– Gomiero, T. (2018). Agriculture and degrowth: State of the art and assessment of organic and biotech-based agriculture from a degrowth perspective. Journal of Cleaner Production, 197(2), 1823-1839.