Agrarian Change Working Group

New:  Call for Papers

8th Annual Conference in Political Economy ‘The Political Economy of Inequalities and Instabilities in the 21st Century’

International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE) Critical Political Economy Research Network (CPERN) Berlin Institute for International Political Economy (IPE)

September 13-15, 2017, Berlin School of Economics and Law

Call for papers and panels:

General call: Agrarian Change Working Group

Panel 1: Agrarian Political Economy – Comparative approaches to the global south

About the Agrarian Change Working Group

Mozambique on the move - Tomato Market of Madeia

The IIPPE Agrarian Change Working Group (ACWG) aims to bring together researchers interested in agrarian political economy. It is sponsored by the Journal of Agrarian Change, JAC . The Working Group promotes investigation of the social relations and dynamics of production, property and power in agrarian formations and their processes of change, both historical and contemporary. It encourages work within a broad interdisciplinary framework, informed by theory, and serves as a forum for serious comparative analysis and scholarly debate. As with the Journal, contributions are welcomed from political economists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, heterodox economists, geographers, lawyers, and others committed to the rigorous study and analysis of agrarian structure and change, past and present, across different parts of the world.

In so doing, the ACWG will utilise the aims of IIPPE as its core guiding principles. The Group is particularly interested in bringing together a diverse range of researchers from different disciplines:

  • to provide a forum for conversation and joint work to the mutual benefit of all;
  • to develop a range of activities to advance the perspectives of political economy across this field of enquiry; and
  • to extend the work of the ACWG within the wider research community, including in relation to progressive development policy and social movements.


Current members

Deborah Johnston

Senior Lecturer in Development Economics in the Economics Department of SOAS and Editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. She is interested in land reform, agricultural employment and rural poverty – with a particular interest in work that integrates gender concerns with wider political economy interests. Her work has focused on Southern Africa. Email:

Jens Lerche

Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, Development Studies Department, SOAS, and Editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. He is interested in rural labour and class formation, the informal economy, and social and political struggles of the labouring poor. His work has focussed on India. Email:

Cristóbal Kay

Professor of Development Studies and Rural Development at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague; Visiting Professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Quito and Research Associate at SOAS. He is also Editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. His research is on Latin American theories of development, political economy of agrarian change, rural livelihoods, farming systems, land reform, peasant movements and historical comparative analyses of the European and Latin American rural economy and society. Email:

Carlos Oya

Senior Lecturer in Political Economy of Development, Development Studies Dept. at SOAS, and Editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. He is interested in rural employment and rural poverty, gender, and rural accumulation, with a particular interest in rural entrepreneurs and agrarian class formation. His work has focused on both West and Southern Africa, particularly Senegal and Mozambique. Email:

Henry Bernstein

Professor of Development Studies, department of development studies, SOAS, and co-founder as well as former editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. Author of Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change (2010).

Terence J. Byres

Professor emeritus of Political Economy, SOAS, and co-founder as well as former editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change. Author of Capitalism from above and capitalism from below: An essay in comparative political economy. Londres: Macmillan Press, 1996.

Leandro Vergara-Camus

Lecturer in the Theory, Policy and Practice of Development in the Development Studies Department of SOAS and convenor of the Agrarian Change and Development Research Cluster. He is interested in the Latin American left, social movements, peasant agriculture, and the history of land struggles over property rights in Latin America. His fields of expertise include theories of development, political economy of development, and historical sociology of state and class formation. His current research is on the impact of the internationalisation of the Brazilian sugarcane ethanol industry. Email:

Other Members

Liam Campling

Hannah Bargawi

Helena Perez Nino

Florian Schaefer

Mozambique on the move - The harvest of maize

Activities and initiatives


The Journal of Agrarian Change

The Journal of Agrarian Change produces four issues each year, with contributions dedicated to the study of agrarian political economy. Aside from the production of the Journal, the editors have also engaged in initiatives that we hope will lead to new and exciting future publications. In May 2008, we held a workshop and conference entitled ‘Agrarian questions: lineages and prospects’, which brought together a range of scholars representing the gamut of approaches and research in the field of the political economy of agrarian change. The workshop was also a unique occasion to have an open discussion about the Journal’s present and future and to celebrate the outstanding work of Henry Bernstein and Terry Byres, as ‘founding fathers’ of JAC. For more information on the journal, please visit the homepage and also have a look at this sample issue.

Agrarian Change Seminar Series – Previous sessions

Term 2 2014-15
Organised by the Journal of Agrarian Change and
the Department of Development Studies, SOAS

Venue: Room 4426 (fourth floor, main building), SOAS

22 January, 5.15 pm
On the primacy of wage-labour: classes of labour and petty commodity production in Rural South India
Jonathan Pattenden (East Anglia)

19 February , 5.15 pm
Investing in women to achieve food security? A study of women’s work and food in northern Mozambique
Sara Stevano (SOAS)

26 February, 5.30 pm (NB: note the later start)
Property and Political Order in Africa: Land Regimes and the Structure of Politics
Catherine Boone (LSE)

5 March, 5.15 pm
Capturing the Commons: Land reform and economic empowerment in sugarcane production in Nkomazi District, South Africa
Phil Woodhouse (Manchester)

12 March, 5.15 pm
Governing the worker’s body: food, health and work for female flower workers in Ethiopia
Deborah Johnston (SOAS)

Spring Term 2014

9 January, 5.15 pm
Fairtrade, employment and poverty reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda
Chris Cramer, Deborah Johnston and Carlos Oya (SOAS)

23 January, 5.15 pm
Food security and coping strategies in rural Bhutan: between self-interest and altruism
Akiko Ueda (Osaka University)

Monday 17 February, 3.15pm, room 116 (Note different time and place)
Six decades of Palanpur: change and continuity in a North Indian village
Himanshu (Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University)

20 February, 5.15 pm
The Gender ‘question’ in agrarian reforms
Susie Jacobs (Manchester Metropolitan University)

6 March, 5.15 pm
Food for change: the politics and values of the alternative food movement
Peter Luetchford and Jeff Pratt (University of Sussex)

20 March, 5.15pm
Accumulation, class and power: rural capitalism in Pakistani Punjab
Muhammad Ali Jan (University of Oxford)

Autumn Term 2013-2014

10 October, 5.15 pm
The poultry transition in the Pacific Rim: food regimes and agrarian change
Jane Dixon (National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, ANU)

24 October, 5.15 pm
Regional patterns of agrarian accumulation in India
Jens Lerche (Development Studies, SOAS)

8 November, 11.45 am, G51
Agrarian Change at Historical Materialism Conference:  Agrarian Transition and Left Politics in India
Alpa Shah (LSE), Barbara Harriss-White (Oxford), Jens Lerche (SOAS); chaired by Subir Sinha (SOAS)

14 November, 5.15 pm
The politics of property in industrial fisheries
Liam Campling (School of Business and Management, Queen Mary)

21 November, 5.15 pm
For capitalist farmers, by bourgeoisie: agricultural policy in the Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Gujarat
Sejuti Dasgupta (Development Studies, SOAS)

28 November, 5.15 pm
Food sovereignty: a skeptical view
Henry Bernstein (Development Studies, SOAS)

5 December, 5.15 pm
From Vegetable Plots to Volleyball Courts: Heritage and the ‘Authentic’ Peasant in Highland Ecuador
Emma-Jayne Abbots (University of Wales Trinity St David)


Spring Term  2012-2013

17 January, 5.15 pm
Breaking Dependency and Monopolies: Post-1994 Rwanda’s Liberalized Coffee Sector
Pritish Behuria (Development Studies Department, SOAS)

24 January, 5.15 pm
The Changing Geography of Grain Cultivation in China and Its Environmental Impact
Chris Bramall (Department of Economics, SOAS)

7 February, 5.15 pm
The physical materiality of the Indian Rice Economy
Barbara Harriss-White (School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies,

21 February, 5.15 pm
Agrarian systems and food provisioning strategies in rural South Africa
Elizabeth Hull (Department of Anthropology, SOAS)

14 March, 5.15 pm
The Tribal Question: Adivasis and the Maoist Movement in India
George Kunnath (School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Oxford)

 Autumn Term 2012-13 

Documentary Film: ‘Best Before: the London Food Revolution is a short documentary about the food system in the UK and the growing food movement in London’. Followed by discussion
Ben Mann, Director and SOAS alumni
18 October, 5.15 pm

Film: ‘Seeds of Freedom’. Followed by discussion
African Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation
25 October, 5.15 pm

Migration and rural differentiation in two selected villages in Bangladesh
Mausumi Mahapatro (SOAS)
9 -11 November

Agrarian Change panel at Historical Materialism Conference:
Crises of labour in South Africa: what is the contribution of the agrarian question?
(SOAS, room and time to be announced):

Land, Labour And The Production Of Affliction In Rural Southern Africa –
*Bridget O’Laughlin (ISS, the Hague)
Smallholder irrigation, agrarian reform and ‘accumulation from below’ in post-apartheid South Africa *Ben Cousins (PLAAS, Western Cape)
Commercial agriculture in South Africa since 1994: ‘natural, simply capitalism’ –
*Henry Bernstein (SOAS)
29 November, 5.15 pm

The agrarian question and 150 years of class conflicts over property rights in rural Brazil and Mexico
Leandro Vergara-Camus (SOAS)
6 December, 5.15 pm

Monthly income… What is that? Comparing notes on implementing household surveys in rural Mozambique
Helena Perez-Nino and Sara Stevano (SOAS)
Click here to see past seminar series.