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De-growing environmental justice: Reflections from anti-mining movements in Eastern Europe

Irina Velicu

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While the critique to economic growth is quintessential in the degrowth scholarship, one may observe a similar focus in various environmental justice movements around the world. This is particularly visible when it comes to the increasing perception that mega-development projects are both unjust and unsustainable, threatening the survival of people and environments. In this paper, we illustrate this focus by looking at two anti-mining movements in Eastern Europe (EE): Save Rosia Montana (Romania) and Krumovgrad (Bulgaria). The local movements describe open cast mining (even in the prospective phase) as potential destruction of basic sources of life (material commons such as water or crops, and community relations). The paper emphasizes a dynamic involved in doing environmental justice, or ‘de-growing EJ’: affected communities organize themselves by ‘staying in place’, producing alternative economies, organizing local democratic institutions. What potentially "grows" here, is a societal imaginary of justice on how to reproduce the socio-ecological conditions of life by protecting and re-defining traditional means of production and grassroots practices, knowledge, wealth, and values.

Ecological Economics, vol. 159, May 2019, pp. 271-278

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