Contributors: Pellegrini, Lorenzo (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
I am associate professor of economics of environment and development. here at the degrowth conference I will try to demystify the fairy tales about happiness in Bhutan.
Scientific paper contribution: Bhutan: Between Happiness and Horror
Abstract: This study juxtaposes the congratulatory rhetoric surrounding Bhutan’s efforts to promote happiness and the gross violations of human rights that coincide with the happiness project. The academic debate has not reflected on the Janus-faced nature of the Bhutanese regime and the literature is replete with references to the Bhutanese happiness search. From these acclaims, it appears that the Bhutanese kingdom has overcome dialectical relationships; the government is promoting happiness for the benefit of “the people”, and “class, ethnicity and gender” and social antagonism more broadly are not current concerns. To the contrary, in this piece we highlight a gap in the scholarship on Bhutan and happiness by bringing to the fore issues that so far have been confined to specialized human rights literature, some isolated reports in the international press, and Nepali mass-media. Our aim is to bridge the intimately related issues of happiness, social struggle, and human rights in Bhutan and provide a critical reflection on the country’s experience.