CfP: Ecuador’s Buen Vivir: Implementation, challenges and ways forward

  • University of Cambridge United Kingdom

University of Cambridge, 24 and 25th of September, 2015:

After national elections and a constituent assembly, nine years have passed since Ecuador adopted Buen Vivir as a key concept in its constitutional and planning process. Since then Buen Vivir has captured significant international attention due to the notion’s progressive, innovative and époque changing proposals. Buen Vivir in the Ecuadorian context has been undertaken in the context of President Correa’s ‘Citizen Revolution’ and moves towards the goal of 21st century socialism. Referring broadly to collective well-being among social groups and in harmony with nature, Buen Vivir has additionaly been subject to debates concerning its origins, main precepts, and policy implications. Drawing from indigenous concepts and worldviews, Buen Vivir was depicted as a set of radical epistemologies that were post-development, post neoliberal and even de-colonial. From this perspective, the Ecuadorian constitution of 2008 focused on collective rights, the rights of nature, plurinationalism and interculturalism, amongst other innovative ideas. Meanwhile critical perspectives on neoliberal capitalist economies proposed a post-extractivist economy and a greater distribution of resources. Bureaucratically, Buen Vivir has encompassed the entire political apparatus with each public policy defined by the National Plans of Buen Vivir (2009-2013, 2013-201). Scholars have focused on Buen Vivir’s critical engagement with neoliberal development, calling attention to its tensions with postcolonial conditions of development (Radcliffe, 2012).  Others have stressed an anti-development paradigm and the domestication of its concepts (Gudynas, 2011).

In light of Buen Vivir’s significance within Ecuadorian governmental goals and citizen-state politics, and its international profile, the focus of this conference will be the contemporary moment of Buen Vivir in Ecuador. The concept of Buen Vivir has traveled and changed over the short period of time since its establishment in the 2008 Constitution. Buen Vivir has also become embroiled in contests over its meanings and consequences, such as among indigenous movements (Becker, 2013) and feminist groups (Lind, 2012). Meanwhile, however poverty has declined and inequality, education and health indicators have improved, indicating broad state and societal transformations (Becker, 2013). In this context, the conference seeks to examine the current dynamics around Buen Vivir and discern future directions for policy, society and government over the next few years. 

This conference, to be held at the University of Cambridge, seeks to bring scholars together to discuss contemporary dynamics related to Ecuador’s model of Buen Vivir. We welcome participants from all disciplines to present a paper in a small workshop. Participants will be expected to submit a written version of their paper one month in advance of the workshop, for circulation and to facilitate discussion. The following topics provide an indicative list of possible themes to be discussed at the conference.

  • The institutionalization of Buen Vivir
  • Poverty, inequality and development under Buen Vivir
  • Buen Vivir reforms in public policy (eg. education, health, etc)
  • Identity politics and Buen Vivir
  • Environment and Buen Vivir
  • Territorial challenges: the spaces and geography of Buen Vivir

Registration: Interested participants should send a 250 word abstract to Sarah Radcliffe directly -  sar23 (at) - by 15 July, 2015. Notifications on accepting papers will be sent by 29  July 2015. Written papers will be expected by 1st September, to be distributed and read by panelists.


  • Becker, M., 2013. The Stormy Relations between Rafael Correa and Social Movements in Ecuador. Latin American Perspectives [full reference required]
  • Guydnas, E., 2011. Buen Vivir: germinando alternativas al desarrollo. Quito: América Latina en Movimiento, ALAI, n.° 462: 1-20
  •  Lind, A., 2012. “Revolution with a Woman’s Face”? Family Norms, Constitutional Reform, and the Politics of Redistribution in Post-Neoliberal Ecuador. Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society 24:4, 536–555.
  •  Radcliffe, S.A., 2012. Development for a postneoliberal era? Sumak Kawsay, living well and the limits to decolonisation in Ecuador. Geoforum 43, 240–249.