Kyoto 2020: IASC-RIHN Online Workshop on Commons, Post-development and Degrowth in Asia

Starts:  Jul 20, 2020 8:00 AM (JST)
Ends:  Jul 22, 2020 5:00 PM (JST)
Associated with  Community Forum
Kyoto 2020: IASC-RIHN Online Workshop on Commons, Post-development and Degrowth in Asia

Aim & Scope

Development based on the social imaginary of limitless economic growth has caused widespread ecological destruction. It remains a crucial driver of global climate change and widening socio-economic gaps both in the region and within countries. Its characteristics include the simultaneous existence of overuse and underuse of resources, as well as overconsumption and unmet human needs. These trends have raised questions about the classic development trajectory (including its latest iteration in the form of the growth-dependent Sustainable Development Goals) and its feasibility for achieving sustainability. As a response, degrowth and post-development have emerged as crucial alternatives to growth-obsessed development strategies, and draw heavily upon commons-related ideas.

In ‘industrialized’ Asia (e.g., Japan, China, South Korea, and Taiwan), demographic transitions including depopulation, low fertility rates, shifting workforce composition, and changing ways of relating to the natural environment can be observed, with similar trends apparent across diverse political systems. Dominant political and industrial discourses interpret depopulation as a hazard since it implies shrinking domestic markets. However, depopulation could also inspire people to turn away from the imaginary of limitless economic growth, thereby opening the door for a small but sufficient society. Commons and degrowth ideas could be indispensable tools in achieving such a transition.

In ‘developing’ places in Asia, human needs often remain unmet despite mounting ecological damage from classic growth-based development. This broken promise of classic development points to the importance of finding alternative pathways, with prominent examples of such efforts including the focus on happiness over growth in Bhutan. A rich diversity of approaches that build on local context, culture, values, and on-going grassroots struggles is rapidly gaining recognition under the term post-development. Commons and commoning seem highly relevant for post-development by offering insights for community-centered resource management and practices.

Degrowth and post-development, however, are still seen as approaches applying to either developed or developing countries. The commons idea is relevant to both fields and has the potential to break down the dichotomy and open spaces for mutual learning.

As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to expand globally, questions of ownership, access and management of commons (as well as public goods) have returned to the center stage in almost every society. Commons that were previously taken for granted now suddenly turn out to be both precious and precarious.

This workshop thus aims to bring together researchers and practitioners working on or interested in the intersection of commons & commoning, post-development, and degrowth in the Asian context in the hope of fostering cross-cutting, interdisciplinary work on these topics.

Participants, structure & themes

With the shift to an online format, we decided to make a few structural adjustments:
We are opening the workshop to the public and invite everyone interested to join us online.
If you only participate in the workshop as an online observer, you do not need to be a member of IASC.
If you would like to make a presentation, IASC membership remains necessary. You can find information about the income adjusted membership fees and join IASC if you haven’t done so already.
We welcome submissions by researchers of all career stages, but will prioritize Early Career Researchers when selecting abstracts.
We will accept up to 50 presentations in total. Please refrain from submitting more than one abstract as a first author.

The program of the workshop will consist of plenary sessions and individual presentations, as well as tutorials and a social gathering. Individual presentations will be solicited for two themes: “commons and degrowth” and “commons and post-development”. All presentations related to these themes are welcome, and we hope for a broad variety of academic disciplines.

This workshop is inspired, among others, by the following major works:

Bollier, D., Helfrich, S. (Eds.), 2015. Patterns of Commoning. Commons Strategy Group and Off the Common Press.

D’Alisa, G., Demaria, F., Kallis, G. (Eds.), 2014. Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era. Routledge.

Kothari, A., Salleh, A., Escobar, A., Demaria, F., Acosta, A. (Eds.), 2019. Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary. Tulika Books.

Call for Papers

Submissions are now open, and the deadline has been extended to June 7, 2020.
Individual presentations will be solicited for two themes: “commons and degrowth” and “commons and post-development.”
Successful respondents will be notified by June 15th.
Presenters are required to register by June 22nd.
While we are still working out the details, we are currently considering asking all presenters to submit their presentations before the workshop. To facilitate communication and discussion, we will invite all presenters to an online platform (to be determined). Presenters are required to join this platform.

Please submit your abstracts (up to 250 words) to

When & Where

Deadline for submission of abstracts: June 7, 2020 (updated!)

Workshop date: July 20-22, 2020

Location: ONLINE (details to be announced)


Attending this workshop is free of charge.

If you would like to make a presentation, IASC-membership is required. Not a member yet? You can sign up to become a member immediately via the IASC homepage.


The workshop is organized by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Kyoto. For enquiries please contact the organizing team:


Dial-in Instructions:
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Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN)