Answering the "Call of the Mountain": co-creating sustainability through networks of change in Colombia

Martha Chaves Villegas

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

In response to the age of the ‘anthropocene,’ as some authors are calling this epoch in which one single species is disrupting major natural systems (Steffen et al 2011), there are calls for more radical, learning-based sustainability that generates deep transformations in individuals and communities so as to transition towards a more reflexive and process-oriented society (Wals 2009, Sterling 2009). The principal contention of this thesis is that new social movements (NSM) of the network society (Castells 2012, Buechler 2016), based on integrated visions of sustainability, can provide platforms for bringing about transformative learning. This thesis is based on empirical research (2012-2016) into a fraction of such NSM named the Council of Sustainable Settlements of Latin America (C.A.S.A.). Comprising a diversity of members from Indigenous pueblos, afro-colombian communities, neo-rural settlements (ecovillages), Hare Krishna communities, campesino farmers, NGOs and urban peoples and initiatives, the C.A.S.A. network organizes intercultural exchanges where transformative learning can be traced. Through new forms of collective action centered on a plurality of ideas and practices, and with a strong focus on reflection and personal development, in such encounters through ‘ontological politics’, ‘optimal dissonance’ and ‘deep reflexivity and flexibility’ members are articulating new paradigms of alternative development and creating spaces for transformation. Yet, such learning processes are incredibly complex, and the value-action gap remains substantial in many cases. What this thesis has shown, however, is that by putting into practice principles of buen vivir and the pluriverse such as reconnecting to ancestral wisdom, acknowledging the other, questioning values of competition and consumerism, and forming new relations to place and territory, one begins to question one's own set of norms, and those of society. Ultimately, the C.A.S.A. network’s struggles, negotiations and learning processes remind us that global sustainability entails more than 'menus' of good practices but a plurality of solutions which include humans and non-humans, different ontologies, and even a multiplicity of worlds, in what is a tough but rewarding aula.

 

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Wals, Arjen, Promotor
  • Verschoor, Gerard, Co-promotor
Award date22 Nov 2016
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789462577251
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • sustainable development
  • sustainability
  • social networks
  • networks
  • communities
  • rural communities
  • change
  • social change
  • learning
  • colombia
  • south america

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