The University of Arizona

Finding common ground: exploring synergies between degrowth and environmental justice in Chiapas, Mexico

Jonathan Otto


Abstract In this article I explore potential synergies between degrowth and environmental justice movements, with a focus on their shared goal of inclusivity. I turn to the case of the contentious San Cristóbal-Palenque highway project in Mexico's southernmost state, Chiapas, and highlight the ability of such intersections to speak to the concerns of protesters of the initiative. Since the mid-1990s, critics of market-based development in Chiapas have provided a sustained critique of the Mexican government's growth-oriented development agenda and related conditions of poverty and inequality in the state. These critics mobilized in 2009 and 2014 to protest the construction of a mega-highway designed to enhance agribusiness and tourism in the region. This opposition finds many points of overlap with perspectives of degrowth proponents in its critique of growthbased development, and yet is rooted in a unique socio-political and historical context. Given the situated nature of this opposition, I argue that a synergistic approach that takes into account the thinking of degrowth proponents and environmental justice advocates is needed, to address the concerns of highway protesters in Chiapas whose critiques of a growth society emerged from its negative effects to which they are disproportionately exposed. Key Words: Degrowth, environmental justice, contestation, Mexico

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