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Degrowth from the East – between quietness and contention. Collaborative learnings from the Zagreb Degrowth Conference


While degrowth as a plural and decolonial movement actively invites the Global South to be part of its transformative project, the current North-South dichotomy threatens to miss the variety of semi-peripheral contexts. Against this backdrop, we aim to contribute to dialogues on degrowth from the often-overlooked ‘East’ – specifically post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Instead of being viewed as a site for transformative examples and inspiration for degrowth-oriented socio-ecological transformation, CEE is often portrayed as ‘lagging behind’. Problematising such reductionist narratives, this essay explores CEE as a lively and rich site of postcapitalist alternatives. Based on two special sessions organised at the 2023 International Degrowth Conference in Zagreb, we ref lect upon insights gathered on various degrowth-aligned traditions and practices in CEE with a goal to 1) advance an equitable dialogue between the global degrowth scholarship and the East, and 2) strengthen a context-sensitive degrowth agenda in CEE.


degrowth, Central and Eastern Europe, quiet sustainability, semi-periphery, catch-up development, post-socialism, global East

Discussion Article (PDF)

Author Biography

Lilian Pungas

Lilian Pungas is a researcher at the Institute for Sociology at Friedrich Schiller University Jena with a research focus on food self-provisioning at the dachas in Estonia.

Ondřej Kolínský

Ondřej Kolínský is a green transition researcher at the Czech Technical University and the Association for International Affairs in Prague.

Thomas SJ Smith

Thomas S.J. Smith is a postdoctoral researcher in Human-Environment Relations at the Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU), Munich.

Ottavia Cima

Ottavia Cima is a geographer based at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who has done work on agricultural cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan.

Eva Fraňková

Eva Fraňková is an ecological economist at the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Her long-term interests include eco-social enterprises, local economic alternatives and degrowth.

Agnes Gagyi

Agnes Gagyi is researcher at the University of Gothenburg, and co-founder of the Solidarity Economy Center in Budapest.

Markus Sattler

Markus Sattler is based at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) in Leipzig. His research focuses on diverse and community economies in the South Caucasus.

Lucie Sovová

Lucie Sovová is based at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Her research revolves around alternative economies of food provision.