Panel no. 62 - Eco-Warriors in the Name of Life: Generations, Nature and the Actual Degrowth of the Balkans


Title Dr First name Ivan Last name Rajkovic
Institution University of Vienna City Vienna Country AT


Title Dr First name Ana Last name Banić Grubišić
Institution name University of Belgrade City Belgrade Country RS


Panel title

Eco-Warriors in the Name of Life: Generations, Nature and the Actual Degrowth of the Balkans

Panel abstract

After they had exhausted other sources of cheap capital, the Balkan states are increasingly targeting natural resources as the last "wealth of nations" to be privatised. Construction of small hydropower plants, intensified mineral extraction, reindustrialisation - while creating investment hype, these developments spread a fair share of environmental spoil, resource grab and violence. In turn, such ecological conflicts aggregate on a still broader sense of postsocialist crisis of care and demographic freefall, resulting from mass outmigration to Western Europe and lowering life standards. In this regard, the Balkans as a semi-periphery stand apart from both the Global North and South: they experience an active de-development of their institutions as well as a population degrowth, often popularly understood as "dying out". As a result, all regional politics and especially, eco-politics are increasingly population-themed, and (inter)generational to that. The "river defenders" come from ageing villagers, fighting in the name of wildlife and generations still to come. Protests against air pollution treat urban greenery and children's health as parts of a bigger struggle against illiberal power. This panel will look at how the global tropes of climate change, degrowth and generational rebellion get embedded in the region's semi-peripheral, ageing and unequal social realities. How do grassroots environmentalisms rearticulate visions of national wellbeing, kinship, community, generational reciprocity? How do they ally different social groups and disparate publics? Is "nature" becoming a new reservoir of political imagination in the Balkans? What economic revitalisation and self-sufficiency it promises (eco-tourism, organic food, eco-entrepreneurships) - and for whom?

IUAES Commission

IUAES Commission for Anthropology and Environment