Mapping Buen Vivir: A guide for environmental communication scholars and activists in the Global North
On 1 November 2023 the DCU Centre for Climate and Society will host a public lecture on Mapping Buen Vivir: A guide for environmental communication scholars and activists in the Global North by Prof Patrick D. Murphy, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Temple University Rome and Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University.
The event will run from 12.00 - 1.00pm in Room SA.106, Stokes Building, DCU Glasnevin Campus. A light lunch will follow.
The notion of “buen vivir” has become one of the most discussed and debated concepts within the contemporary emergence of environmental transition discourses. Surfacing in academic and activist circles in Latin America more than twenty years ago, the concept has been the subject of an increasing range of scholarship. It has also been instrumental in policy-making, most famously with its incorporation into Ecuador’s constitution and Bolivian public policy. Part of the appeal of buen vivir comes from its association with “good living” or “living well,” a translation that imbues it with an elasticity that, nevertheless, can lead to misinterpretations, and political and cultural appropriation. This has contributed to a splintering of conceptualizations, some of which are more “generic” tied to conventional development models and other, more “radical” ones that reject Western notions of progress and the institutions and ideas that perpetuate them (Gudynas, 2015). While some important essays have been published in English that trace these trajectories and define key concepts (e.g., Arcila Calderón, Barranquero, & González Tanco, 2018; Walsh, 2010), the vast majority of scholarly work on buen vivir remains accessible only in Spanish.
This presentation draws from this deep pool of scholarship to map and explicate buen vivir through four interrelated lines of development. First, it examines buen vivir’s place in decolonial thought, degrowth, and “postdevelopment” (e.g., Mignolo & Escobar, 2010), arguing that it represents an exciting extension of Latin America’s deep and rich production of critical theory. Second, it presents an overview of buen vivir origins in indigenous epistemologies (e.g., cultural patrimony, biocentric relationships, and the rights of nature), and how this has become highly contested terrain (Garay Montañez, 208; Lalander, 2014). Third, it reviews the scholarship that asserts that buen vivir should be understood in a more universal sense in that it is a synthesis of indigenous knowledge, Western environmentalism, and development models (Arcila Calderón, Barranquero, & González Tanco, 2018). Finally, it engages the scholarship which increasingly casts buen vivir as a form of communication (Sierra & Maldonaldo, 2016). Through the charting of these intertwined trajectories, a clearer sense of buen vivir’s contributions to and challenges of the field of environmental communication are identified.
Patrick D. Murphy is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Temple University Rome and Professor in the Department of Media Studies and Production in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. Past positions include Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the Klein College of Media and Communication (2013-2022), Chair of the Department of Media Studies and Production in the Klein College (2009-2012), and Chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2003-2009). He has also served as a visiting professor in the School of Communication and Humanities, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Querétaro, Mexico. Additionally, he was a Fulbright-Garcia Robles fellow in Mexico, and served as a delegate for the Latin America team of the American Documentary Showcase series.
His research interests include environmental communication, global communication, ethnographic method, and Latin American media and cultural theory. He is author of The Media Commons: Globalization and Environmental Discourses (University of Illinois Press, 2017), and is co-editor of Negotiating Democracy: Media Transformation in Emerging Democracies (SUNY, 2007) and Global Media Studies (Routledge, 2003), and his work has appeared in numerous journals and chapters in edited books. He has also translated into English articles by some of Latin America’s most prominent communication scholars.