[CFP] Conference 2020 – Agrarian Change Working Group

11th IIPPE Annual Conference 
Beyond Neoliberalism and Populism: On the Political Economy of our Societies and Economies
September 9-11, 2020, Ferrara, Italy

Call for papers and proposals: Agrarian Change Working Group

As the crisis of neoliberal capitalism deepens and rightwing populisms engage in a sustained effort to keep the show on the road by mobilizing pseudo-nationalism and racist discourses, a sense of urgency animates the study of agrarian social formations in this conjuncture of multi-layered crises of production, reproduction, environment, politics and ideology. In the wake of failed neoliberalism and the limited and contradictory achievements of several experiences of left-leaning governments, Agrarian Political Economy faces the challenge of providing critical analysis of the dynamics and contradictions of this conjuncture.  

In rural settings, this crisis far from leading to the emergence or consolidation of alternatives to neoliberalism has allowed for the continued expansion of the power of agribusiness, the strengthening of their global commodity chains, the dominance of financial interests, and grabs of different kinds (land, water, forests). These accumulation strategies have a direct but also contradictory impact on agrarian class relations. Capitalist agrarian classes consolidate themselves while petty commodity producers, peasants and rural labourers reproduce themselves under ever more precarious conditions, which requires more than ever to have one foot in the non-agrarian economy. This is in turn changing the household strategies of social reproduction, not only by further increasing the feminization of labour but also increasing the pressures on women’s unpaid labour within households and across generations. However, some sectors of the subaltern agrarian classes have managed to insert themselves in agribusiness-led commodity chains through different economic and political strategies, benefiting from the high prices of food and post-2007 rush on commodities. Surprisingly, in contrast to what had happened during the previous crisis of neoliberalism in the 1990s, land struggles and demands for land reforms seem to have faded away from the international agenda.

This raises important questions about the processes of integration into global capitalism, peasant resistance, social conflicts in the countryside, territoriality, semi-proletarianisation and surplus populations. Are the global and local movements promoting sustainable farming practices and food sovereignty and/or indigenous autonomy leading to more sustainable ways of managing natural resources capable of mounting a challenge to neoliberalism, agribusiness and right-wing populism? Politically, the recurrent crises and instability have led to calls for, and promises of, greater role for the state in regulating economic life – but to what effect?

The agrarian change working group invites you to submit proposals for individual papers, and thematic panels. In this spirit we welcome contributions on the following themes.

  • The role of the state in processes of globalisation of agriculture and food, agrarian and agricultural policies of developing countries
  • Power and inequality in agrarian systems, class formation and social differentiation, accumulation from below and above
  • Labour and social mobilisation, class struggles in the countryside
  • Rural social movements and transnational agrarian movements, alternative networks and politics (food sovereignty, peasant and indigenous autonomy, etc.)
  • Theoretical discussions on the nature and relevance (or not) of peasant farming and politics in the context of globalisation and expansion of extractive industries
  • The contested production of food, control over food, food production systems
  • Private-led quality standards, certification, social and sustainability standards,
  • Vertical integration within commodity chains and implications for the creation and appropriation of value, emerging forms of organising production and pricing,
  • Capital upstream and downstream from agriculture, market integration, the financialisation of agriculture
  • Labour and migration, remittances and agriculture, social protection and employment schemes, informality and rural livelihoods.
  • Land reform, land restitution and redistribution, unpacking community and customary structures, land grabs and large-scale land acquisition, the development of flex-crops and agrofuels.
  • Inequalities and gender, generational, caste and race politics in agrarian formations

Abstracts of individual papers (max. 500 words) or panel proposals (max. 500 words plus abstracts of the individual papers) must be submitted via the IIPPE Webpage: http://iippe.org. The deadline is March 15, 2020.

For questions and additional information contact: Leandro Vergara-Camus (lv6@soas.ac.uk), and Jens Lerche (jl2@soas.ac.uk).

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