On 13 May 2022, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University with a public event entitled “Rural Sociology: past, present and future”. The event took place in Akoesticum in Ede and was attended by approximately 130 people: current and former staff members, current and former MSc and PhD students, and current and former collaborators in (inter)national research projects. In addition to this event we wrote and edited a book entitled ‘On Meaningful Diversity: Past, present and future of Wageningen rural sociology’ and a group of (former) PhD students put together a PhD magazine. Both are open access publications.
The entire anniversary event was filmed and a 16 minute compilation video of the day can be found here:
In addition all presentations and talks are available online in order of the program of the day:
Opening by Arthur Mol (Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University)
Keynote by Han Wiskerke: Meaningful diversity: Past, present and future of rural sociology
Keynote by Haroon Akram-Lodhi: From peasant studies to critical agrarian studies
Rural Talk Show: Interactive session including invited guests and audience participation. The Talk Show was chaired by Matt Reed, with Jan Douwe van der Ploeg as a permanent table guest, and changing table guests around the following three themes:
Session 1– Societal engagement or academic distance; with Jessica Duncan, Aya Kimura, Han Wiskerke
Session 2 – Discussing the rural-urban dichotomy; with Henk Oostindie, Sally Shortall, Esther Veen
Session 3 – A continuing debate: agency and structure; with Bettina Bock, Bram Büscher, Mark Vicol
Keynote by Hannah Wittman: Bridging rural and urban through agroecological networks: cultivating agrarian citizenship in a climate crisis
Presentation of Research Agendas: Imagining the next 25 years of rural sociology. Interactive session around three research agendas, briefly pitched by RSO staff, followed by an open floor exchange of ideas and discussion:
A recent article on Al Jazeer English with Shi Yan’s approach to organic farming that is helping to break the country’s “addiction to pesticides” and an interview with Rural Sociology’s Jan Douwe van der Ploeg.
The Journal of Peasant Studies is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013-14. Volume 1 of JPS was published in October 1973 to September 1974. Part of our series of initiatives to commemorate the anniversary of JPS is the publication of virtual special issues, starting with the 40 Classics in Peasant Studies.
The second in the series is JPS 40: Peasants & Politics. This collection highlights some of the key articles that have been published in the journal over the past four decades on peasant politics.
The articles share one common feature: they all remain extremely relevant, especially in the context of today’s massive, worldwide revival of critical agrarian studies. We hope academics will find the virtual special issue useful in their courses. We hope students of contemporary critical agrarian studies and critical environmental studies, among others, will find it useful in building their theoretical foundations. We hope policy practitioners will find it relevant in informing policy debates. We hope agrarian, food and environmental activists will find it relevant in their political struggles.
When I started to read about the peasantry there were two major things that occurred to me as striking. First, in policy peasants are often considered as a group of laggards: who are unable to take care of themselves and therefore need social assistance; who rely on primitive forms of technology and therefore must be modernized; or who are impeded by a stagnant, traditional mentality and must therefore be converted into small entrepreneurs. The peasant mode of farming is seldomly considered in its own right. Second, in academic theory peasants are predicted to disappear, weaken or live a life of poverty as a result of their inferior mode of production and their helplessness. Departing from the assumption that actors are driven by a specific economic-rational logic, neo-liberal approaches roughly theorise that peasants commoditize, compete with other farms as a result of which there will be regional growth. Tradition or culture can block economic rationality and the transition from peasant to entrepreneur. The peasant will then be doomed to poverty. In contrast to the neo-liberal approach, neo-Marxist approaches, most of which also assume that the peasant is driven by an economic logic and commoditize, theorise that commoditization will either lead to the destruction of the peasant enterprise or to a fate of poverty. This is the result of price fluctuations, squeeze in agriculture (caused by the trend of decreasing produce prices and increasing input prices for farmers), or newly emerging food networks (through which income from weaker, peasant, parts of the chain are squeezed in favour of the more powerful, retailers, part of the chain). These predictions and preconceptions contradict with what happened in Araponga, a rural municipality in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil where there was a rise in the number of peasants and an increase in welfare. The objective of this thesis was to find out how this was possible: how had (re)peasantisation occurred in Araponga. Continue reading →