The most recent publication in the Contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures series is now available! The work is also open access and is available on Modern Languages Open and the Oapen Library. We caught up with author Luis I. Prádanos to discuss Postgrowth Imaginaries.
Firstly, could you tell us a bit about Postgrowth Imaginaries and what compelled you to focus your research in this area?
I wanted to understand the cultural dimension of the ecological crisis and its relation to the economic dominant paradigm. Many fields study these processes separately (economics, environmental studies, cultural studies), but I believe that the only way to make sense of our current historical conjunction in politically and ethically relevant ways is to investigate these processes together.
What makes post-2008 Spain such an optimal context to investigate these cultural processes?
It is an optimal context due to the dramatic changes in the social metabolism of the region during the last few decades (rapid economic growth, accelerated ecological destruction, massive adoption of cultural consumerism and an energy-intensive lifestyle) that resulted in a post-2008 long economic and social crisis. These changes are crucial to understand the acritical celebratory rhetoric of growth and modernization that resulted into the current socioecological crisis. Spain exemplifies a very intense and accelerated case of neoliberal globalization rise and fall (but it is also a region where many innovative and vibrant counterhegemonic practices and narratives are emerging).
You mention that some areas covered in Postgrowth Imaginaries have often been ignored in Iberian cultural studies. Are there any key areas you think it’s important to highlight which have previously been ignored?
The inextricable entanglements among ecological processes, economic paradigms, and cultural changes are undertheorized in Spanish cultural studies. Not many cultural scholars in my field take seriously how cultural sensibilities influence material and energy flows and how specific ecologies, energy regimes, and urban infrastructures condition and shape our cultural, political, and aesthetic possibilities. Fortunately, these topics are receiving more attention in the last few years.
How does this volume pave the way for future research on the topic?
I hope that this intervention will encourage more Iberian cultural scholars to develop a more systemic, posthumanist, and ecological understanding of culture. I would love to see more research projects in my field that are informed by political ecology and environmental humanities.
What are you going to be working on next?
I am now working on a project that converges energy humanities and urban cultural studies. In this work I explore the interrelations among cultural sensibilities, political power, and energy technologies. I believe that studying Iberian contemporary cultures from this angle can be illuminating, as it reveals how dominant cultural imaginaries can only be maintained by completely ignoring the nonrenewable and environmentally destructive substance that fuels petro-capitalism and made it both historically feasible in the past and biophysically impossible as a future option. I am interested in exploring how certain arrangements of energy power and urban infrastructure support the dominant cultural imaginary in Spain (and the other way around) and how such arrangements could be modified to facilitate the emergence of counterhegemonic cultures that are socially desirable and ecologically viable.