While the field of sustainability transitions studies is often criticized for its narrow focus on European and other OECD countries, more and more scholars apply concepts and frameworks like transition management or strategic niche management to countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America. This raises some critical questions: Can we directly apply concepts developed in Europe to other regions or do they need to be “translated”? And if so, how should we do it? How can transitions theories and concepts broaden our understanding of transition processes in the developing world? What can transitions research learn from experiences in countries outside the OECD? In a recent blog post, a transitions PhD student asked if we can use “Northern theories for Southern contexts”.
Obviously, answering these questions is not an easy task – and it needs some fruitful discussions within the transitions research community and beyond. Aiming to foster that debate and share experiences with researchers coming from and working in developing countries, a new network was established at last year’s IST conference in Brighton, where participants discussed if and how concepts, methods, and theories in transition studies can be applied to Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The network about transitions studies in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa – or TransLACASAF – provides a forum that aims to build up knowledge and capacity, exchange on theoretical, methodological and content related aspects and further the STRN network on this topic. Additionally, the network aims to link sustainability transitions theories with other relevant disciplines and fields, as well as to connect with other practices and methodologies.
A key activity of the group involves convening regular webinars where current research topics are discussed. These are held on a monthly basis since October 2015. The network addresses topics not only related to the application and adaptation of transition theories in different contexts but also other issues such as participatory methodologies, the co-creation and co-production of knowledge among multiple societal actors, and the role of action research in these processes. Issues like a sustainability experimentation venture network, co-construction of knowledge for socio-ecological transitions in China or transition pathways for empowering local communities in Honduras have been discussed so far.
If you would like to share your research that deals with transitions in developing countries or if you want to contribute to the more general debate you are more than welcome to join the network. Anyone interested should write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to become part of the network’s email list. Ideas for additional activities, comments and suggestions are also highly valuable.