[CFP] Conference 2022 – Agrarian Change Working Group

IIPPE 22nd Annual Conference, 7-9 September 2022, Bologna, Italy

Call for papers and panel proposals: Agrarian Change Working Group

A sense of urgency animates the study of agrarian social formations in this conjuncture of (post?)-pandemic restructuring, the global climate emergency, continued extractivism, and the very real threat of trade-based food security crisis.

A multi-layered crisis of production, reproduction, environment, politics and ideology is unfolding as neoliberal capitalism continues to fail to deliver on its promises. For some years already, international organizations, politicians and state officials of different allegiances have recognized the mounting social inequalities. Some call for new forms of market regulations with a return to a degree of state intervention, while rightwing populisms engage in sustained efforts to accelerate capital accumulation at all costs through the mobilization of pseudo 

nationalist and racist discourses. Agrarian Political Economy faces the challenge of providing critical analysis of the dynamics and contradictions of this conjuncture.

In rural settings across the globe, while there are talks of closed cycle production, circular economy, the return to shorter commodity chains, and even de-globalisation, this crisis far from leading to the emergence or consolidation of alternatives to neoliberalism has not challenged the power of agribusiness, the dominance of their global commodity chains, or the financialisation of agriculture. We are also witnessing grabs of different kinds (land, water, forests), not only linked to agriculture, but also to extractive industries and the so-called green economy. 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 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. While the full impact of the covid pandemic is unfolding, it is clear that many existing inequalities have been exacerbated, with significant differences depending on gender, ethnic or racial identities, while global agribusiness as a whole appears to be consolidating further. 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 – though agrarian struggles are still winnable, as the successful struggle against government-led agribusiness takeover and undermining of agrarian livelihoods in India has shown.

This raises important questions about the processes of integration into global capitalism, peasant resistance, social conflicts in the countryside, territorial reconfigurations, 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 protecting and managing natural resources? Are these alternatives capable of mounting a challenge to neoliberalism, agribusiness, extractivism, and right-wing populism? Will the threatening breakdown in the supply of grain and other staples from Ukraine lead to urban and rural poor being priced out of access to sufficient food, again? 

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 submission of proposals for individual papers, and thematic panels. Submissions are open to all aspects of agrarian change and but we especially encourage contributions on the following themes:

  • Covid and agrarian change: restructuring and crisis for whom?Agrarian change and the socio-ecological crisis
  • Agrarian change and extractivism
  • Authoritarian neo-populism and left agrarian populism
  • Agrarian autonomy: movements and perspectives
  • Rural labour migration and agrarian change
  • Social reproduction and agrarian change
  • Agrarian struggles and the green economy
  • New and old discussions on alternatives to globalised agriculture

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 April 30, 2022.

For questions and additional information contact:

Leandro Vergara-Camus lvc@uontario.ca and Jens Lerche jl2@soas.ac.uk

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