In view of the multiple current global crisis scenarios, the question arises of how futures inthe Global South can be shaped in such a way that it is oriented towards the wellbeing of people and forms of self-determined life. This is why the categoriesof "wellbeing" and “subjectivity” are currently at the centre of a global cultural and political field of conflict in which the possibilities for shaping the future in the Global South are being negotiated, since, according to Appadurai, the capacity to aspire a good lifeis very unevenly distributed. “Wellbeing” plays a key role in the transnational arena of development policies and is, for example, foregrounded by institutions like the WHO or the UN. While “wellbeing” certainly gives coherence to a set of aspirations for the futureof mankind, the concept transports certain notions of subjectivity, agency and articulation that demand criticalscrutiny. Unsurprisingly, many prominent commentators and social movements from the South reject implied notions of modernizationand developmentthat ignore specific cultural and social conditionsand local knowledge. The ensuing cultural and political debates encompass institutional politics, social activism, media modelling and cultural imaginaries including also the sphere of everyday practice.
No less necessary is a debate about “wellbeing” on the epistemological level: where social sciences tend to link the concept to quantifiable categories –as for example in the definition of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)– alternative strandsof theory criticise the fundamental orientation of such approachestowards the ideal of growth andindividualistic progress. Such positions –often articulated from the South –refer to autochthonous concepts such as “Buen Vivir” and “Sumak Kawsay” in Latin America, “Swaraj” in India, “Ubuntu” in Africa or “Country” in Indigenous Australia that are based on a sustainable lifestyle oriented towards community and nature. The general question of compatibility, commensurability or parallelism of these approaches to well-being with global campaigns towards “sustainable development” or a “green economy” is intensively discussed and often denied. Cognate discussions are conducted for example in the globally oriented "International Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services" (IPBES) where “wellbeing” plays an explicit and central role, and is understood within a pluralistic framework of “Western”and “non-Western”values. The “degrowth” movementand associated themes of "décroissance et joie de vivre", shows that similar and connected debates are also gaining a foothold in the Global North.
The conference seeks to debate various models and concepts of “wellbeing” across the fields of health, education, work, economic prosperity, community participation, cultural creation, spirituality, ethics and sustainability and to question their significance for aspirations for a (better) future. We will discuss how relationships between different modelsarenegotiated in the local, regional, national and global interdependencies of the Global South, in the fieldsmentioned above, and what effects the enforcement or dominance of specific models of “wellbeing” might have on social, cultural and politicaland religious practices.
Abstracts for individual papers or for thematic panels addressing these topics (300 words maximum), together with a short bio-sketch, should be sent to email@example.com by 29 February 2020.
Pending approval of funds, we will most probably soon issue a second Call for Applications for a Summer Academy for PhD-Students in Tübingen (1-7 July 2020). This event will take place in tandem and in close connection with the “Wellbeing” conference. We strongly encourage applicants for the “Wellbeing” conference to lodge a parallel application for the Summer Academy. Watch this site! We have a limited contingent of mobility grants and scholarships for PhD-Students for participation in these events, mainly for members of global south network partner universities, as well as a small number of two-month doctoral research stays (June-July 2020) at the ICGSS (which will involve participation in both events). Please indicate in your application whether you are dependent upon a mobility grant/scholarship or whether you are self-funded or supported by your institution.