CfP POLLEN20 – Degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggle*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Yi-Chin Wu (Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to Y.Wu1@ids.ac.uk  no later than November 22nd.

Session description

Debates about a new economy, responding to environmental and climate challenges are raging. On the one hand, green economy approaches rely on achieving sustainable futures within win-win-win scenarios based on market and technology based transformations (Bergius et al., 2018). On the other hand, degrowth ideas promoting a downscaling of production and consumption seek to enhance ecological conditions and equity on the planet. Similarly, Environmental Justice movements in the South seek to reshape international agendas by putting forward alternative visions and transformative pathways for society (Rodríguez-Labajos et al., 2019). These three frameworks call for different futures where societies engage in a different way with their ecological means. Although these three frameworks have been broadly studied, little is known about their relationship with the politics of agrarian change. With this in mind, the following questions arise:

  • What do these debates mean for poor and marginalised rural peoples?
  • How are agrarian and environmental debates – whether around a radical degrowth or environmental justice agenda or a more reformist green economy position – being played out?
  • Are there tensions in the way agrarian and environmental futures are being imagined? How are they negotiated and by whom?
  • What does this mean for a new politics of agrarian change that takes environmental questions seriously?
  • How are land, water and climate politics converging and/or clashing in these debates and in relation to agrarian change?

As new climate movements take to the streets, it becomes even more vital to ask what possibilities there are for alliances and interactions between rural (agrarian and fisheries) and climate movements, and between the broader politics of land, water, food, energy and climate. Contributions from wider rural settings (e.g. fisheries) and disciplinary realms (e.g. geography, anthropology) are particularly encouraged here too.

CfP POLLEN20 – How can agrarian movements address the global food and environmental crises?*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Thomas Cooper-Patriota ((Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to T.Cooper-Patriota@ids.ac.uk no later than November 22nd.

Session description

Peasants, agricultural workers, middle farmers, indigenous peoples – alternatively referred to as ‘small-scale food producers’, ‘peasants and other people living in rural areas’, or ‘peasant and indigenous family farmers’ make up close to 40% of the world’s population. Women and men of all ages involved in small-scale agriculture, pastoralism, fishery, or forestry activities, predominantly living in the Global South, still make up the planet’s largest labouring constituency. They are also the most vigorously organised, with the decline of industrial labour unions since the 1980s, and the rise of transnational agrarian movements since the 1990s.

Yet, the last decades have seen an increasing concentration of production, processing and distribution processes in the hands of a reduced number of agri-food giants across largely unaccountable and often predatory ‘global value chains’ reproducing and accentuating core-periphery dependency. Peasant movements mobilising their energy in influencing non-binding international treaties (CFS Tenure Guidelines, UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants), campaigns (International Year and Decade of Family Farming) and goals (SDGs) have drawn attention to their causes and mobilized policy momentum with significant achievements in some areas of the world. This has partly been possible by demonstrating that peasant family farmers are responsible for the production of most of the world’s food and the main stewards for sustainable use of natural resources, despite representing the majority of the world’s undernourished and most vulnerable populations to climate change, biodiversity loss, and soil degradation.

Nevertheless, most national government budgets and strategies – let alone international trade and financial flows – still remain oblivious to people living in rural areas, whom they by and large perceive as reserve armies of cheap labour. Though increasing portions of urban populations begin to perceive peasants/family farmers as part of the solution to the global food and environmental crises, we are still very far from a paradigm shift.

This panel will look at experiences highlighting relationships between agrarian movement action and significant policy change. It will relatedly explore how agrarian movement policy drives towards economic, social and environmental sustainability may contribute in shaping the contours of a post-neoliberal era.