International Institute of Social Studies

The Hague, Netherlands

International Institute of Social Studies

The Hague, Netherlands
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Borras Jr. S.M.,International Institute of Social Studies | Franco J.C.,Transnational Institute | Wang C.,China Agricultural University
Globalizations | Year: 2013

The emergence of 'flex crops and commodities' within a fluid international food regime transition, the rise of BRICS and middle-income countries, and the revalued role of nation-states are critical context for land grabbing. These global transformations that shape and are reshaped by contemporary land grabbing have resulted in the emergence of competing interpretations of the meaning of such changes, making the already complex governance terrain even more complicated. We are witnessing a three-way political contestation at the global level to control the character, pace, and trajectory of discourse, and the instruments in and practice of land governance. These are 'regulate to facilitate', 'regulate to mitigate negative impacts and maximize opportunities', and 'regulate to block and rollback' land grabbing. Future trajectories in land grabbing and its governance will be shaped partly by the balance of state and social forces within and between these three political tendencies. Given this an unfolding global development, this article offers a preliminary analysis by mapping under-explored areas of inquiry and puts forward initial ways of questioning, rather than firm arguments based on complete empirical material. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Margulis M.E.,University of Northern British Columbia | Margulis M.E.,Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies | McKeon N.,Third University of Rome | Borras Jr. S.M.,International Institute of Social Studies
Globalizations | Year: 2013

Land grabbing has emerged as a significant issue in contemporary global governance that cuts across the fields of development, investment, food security, among others. Whereas land grabbing per se is not a new phenomenon, having historical precedents in the era of imperialism, the character, scale, pace, orientation, and key drivers of the recent wave of land grabs is a distinct historical phenomenon closely tied to major shifts in power and production in the global political economy. Land grabbing is facilitated by ever greater flows of capital, goods, and ideas across borders, and these flows occur through axes of power that are far more polycentric than the North-South imperialist tradition. In this introduction we argue that land grabbing speaks to many of the core questions of globalization studies. However, we note scholars of globalization have yet to deeply engage with this new field. We situate land grabbing in an era of advanced capitalism, multiple global crises, and the role of new configurations of power and resistance in global governance institutions. The essays in this collection contribute to identifying land grabbing as an important and urgent topic for theoretical and empirical investigations to deepen our understanding of contemporary globalization and governance. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Hunsberger C.,International Institute of Social Studies | Bolwig S.,Technical University of Denmark | Corbera E.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Creutzig F.,Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change | And 2 more authors.
Geoforum | Year: 2014

While much attention has focused on the climate change mitigation potential of biofuels, research from the social sciences increasingly highlights the social and livelihood impacts of their expanded production. Policy and governance measures aimed at improving the social effects of biofuels have proliferated but questions remain about their effectiveness across the value chain. This paper performs three tasks building on emerging insights from social science research on the deployment of biofuel crops. First, we identify livelihood dimensions that are particularly likely to be affected by their cultivation in the global South - income, food security, access to land-based resources, and social assets - revealing that distributional effects are crucial to evaluating the outcomes of biofuel production across these dimensions. Second, we ask how well selected biofuel governance mechanisms address livelihood and equity concerns. Third, we draw insights from literature on non-energy agricultural value chains to provide one set of ideas for improving livelihood outcomes. Our analysis demonstrates that biofuel policies treat livelihoods as a second-degree problem, specifying livelihoods as an afterthought to other goals. We suggest integrating livelihoods into a multi-criteria policy framework from the start - one that prioritizes equity issues as well as overall outcomes. We also show that the instruments with strongest provisions for safeguarding livelihoods and equity appear least likely to be implemented. Together, shifting both the priorities and the relative hierarchy of biofuel governance instruments could help produce strategies that more effectively address livelihood and equity concerns. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

White B.,International Institute of Social Studies
Journal of Agrarian Change | Year: 2012

This paper explores changes in rural Javanese childhoods over three generations. A combination of historical ethnography and comparison of children's time-budgets, based on three periods of field research, allows us to trace how the experience of childhood has changed in the Javanese village of Kali Loro, from the 1930s to the early twenty-first century. We pay particular attention to the ongoing process of prolongation of childhood and adolescence through changes in education, marriage, children's work and young lifestyles. For the grandparents and parents of today's children, working, and earning money, outside school hours was a part of normal life for both boys and girls. While children's need for money has grown with changing lifestyles in the intervening decades, work outside the home, and particularly work that earns money, is no longer a significant part of childrens' experience. This puts today's children in a condition of greater dependence on parents, elder siblings or other relatives for access to cash, bringing new tensions into intergenerational relations. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

White B.,University of Amsterdam | Dasgupta A.,International Institute of Social Studies
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2010

This article considers the global expansion of agrofuels feedstock production from a political economy perspective. It considers and dismisses the environmental and pro-poor developmental justifications attached to agrofuels. To local populations and direct producers, the specific destination of the crop as fuel, food, cosmetics or other final uses in faraway places is probably of less interest than the forms of (direct or indirect) appropriation of their land and the forms of their insertion or exclusion as producers in global commodity chains. Global demand for both agrofuels and food is stimulating new forms (or the resurgence of old forms) of corporate land grabbing and expropriation, and of incorporation of smallholders in contracted production. Drawing both on recent studies on agrofuels expansion and on the political economy literature on agrarian transition and capitalism in agriculture, this article raises the question whether 'agrofuels capitalism' is in any way essentially different from other forms of capitalist agrarian monocrop production, and in turn whether the agrarian transitions involved require new tools of analysis. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

Roman-Alcala A.,International Institute of Social Studies
Third World Quarterly | Year: 2016

This paper addresses the ambiguity of the term ‘sovereignty’ in food sovereignty (FS), intending to clarify the ‘aspirational sovereignty’ that food sovereignty movements indicate as the ideal configuration of power that would allow FS to flourish, or which might help measure movement towards FS. Since aspirational sovereignty is conditioned by existing power relations, the paper elaborates components of ‘actually existing sovereignty’, based on readings of a variety of political and social science literatures. By critically assessing the difference between actually existing and aspirational sovereignty across three geographic–political levels, the paper offers strategic options for constructing FS, and suggests what such an elaborated definition of FS’s sovereignty might offer future research on FS. © 2016 Southseries Inc.,

Schneider M.,International Institute of Social Studies
Geoforum | Year: 2015

This paper uses pork as a lens on China's rural transformations. Taking the industrialization of pig farming in the reform era as a trace on broader processes of social and environmental change, it advances three arguments. First, the massive increase in pork production and consumption since 1978 has been propelled by an industrial meat regime. A party-state led and agribusiness-operated regime, it articulates modernist notions of meat-as-progress with the relentless drive for capital accumulation. Second, using Marx's concept of metabolic rift, the paper examines how processes of concentration in the industrial meat regime are at the same time processes of separation. This dialectical approach highlights the contradictions inherent in ongoing attempts to disembed capitalist production from biological and social relations. Finally, while official party-state discourse conceptualizes "the rural" as a production base for surplus value, and/or as a site for preserving environmental integrity, the paper's analysis reveals a further unofficial recasting of the rural: in the process of agroindustrialization, the rural is also a sink for offloading capitalist crises. Between the rivers of manure that flow from industrial livestock operations and contaminate rural waterways; the loss of soil nutrients and food calories in the inefficient conversion of grains and oilseeds into industrial meat; the erosion of agricultural knowledge and practice that accompanies the dispossession of China's farmers; and the shifting values of pigs, pork, and manure, this is a system that "wastes" the rural in service of capital. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Thiemann L.,International Institute of Social Studies
Third World Quarterly | Year: 2015

A central question in the current debate on food sovereignty concerns the concepts and approaches to assist and frame the operationalisation of its agendas for peasant-based agricultural development. Another is the search for inclusive methods and language to discuss these operational, ‘territorial’ agendas with potential constituents. This paper argues that both questions call for an investment lens, a complementary approach within food sovereignty that proposes and discusses investments rather than political demands. Decolonial epistemology will treat existing investment lenses critically; however, in doing so it also urges new perspectives on what constitutes investment, the categories of cost involved, and the measurements employed. In following the rationale of investment in agro-ecological theory and practice, the paper next argues that the reconstruction of ‘big push theory’ outside the ‘modernisation’ paradigm that once produced it is possible, and that formulation and discussion of big push strategies could reclaim a space within critical agrarian studies. Big push theory offers a frame for the consistent critique of ‘silver bullet’ development projects through the study of negative feedback loops; and a frame for the study of positive feedback loops, which crucially underlie the proposals of food sovereignty movements for broad, integrated changes in agrarian systems. © 2015, © 2015 Southseries Inc.,

Roman-Alcala A.,International Institute of Social Studies
Globalizations | Year: 2015

Abstract: Land access is an accepted corollary to food sovereignty, long promoted by the transnational agrarian movement La Via Campesina (LVC). LVC's land access politics have evolved with increased incorporation of diverse perspectives, but remain largely focused on achieving ‘integral agrarian reform’ in the global South. Here, I take a case where food sovereignty activists (‘Occupy the Farm’ (OTF)) occupied land owned by a public university in California, the USA, in order to broaden food sovereignty's land access considerations beyond the South, and to analyze conditions where political actions (including occupations) can help achieve changes in land access regimes. The OTF action was successful in challenging cultural norms about property and achieving access, partly due to the occupation having foregrounded multiple appealing narratives that invited participation and wider support. These narratives included agroecology versus biotechnologies; community/public access versus privatization; participatory versus bureaucratic governance structure; and green space/food production versus urban development. The article tests the use of the ‘land sovereignty’ frame in expanding food sovereignty's land politics, to encompass land contestation contexts globally and deal with the particular conditions surrounding lands. The case indicates that land occupations in the North are potentially useful—but uncertain, and very context-dependent—tactics to promote land and food sovereignty. © 2015 Antonio Roman-Alcalá.

Tramel S.,International Institute of Social Studies
Globalizations | Year: 2016

This article tracks the key events that set the stage for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, particularly as they relate to politics of convergence. One side of this coming together is an intersection of issues, where new terrestrial and aquatic carbon sequestration programs have blurred the margins of climate change mitigation and resource grabbing. These programs, enclosing forests, farmlands, and oceans, are likewise fused together in what can be described as an emerging ‘carbon complex’ that is part of the wider blue/green economy. On the reverse side, the clear intersection of issues as witnessed by radical, and historically sectoral, agrarian/social justice movements is causing them to intertwine in resistance. The realm of climate change has proven to be an exceptional space of struggle and countermovement building. Political interactions between movements have become increasingly sophisticated—requiring frameworks that address environmental, agrarian, and oceanic issues at once, as the issues have become ever more complex. Agrarian/social justice movements maintain that their agendas for food sovereignty and climate justice hinge upon exposing fault lines in the system and advocate overall system change. COP21 and its parallel side events were together a landmark moment, but part of a much more involved process, ‘the road through Paris’, along which movements had carved out transnational and local spaces of convergence against the backdrop of a global carbon complex. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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