International Institute of Social Studies ISS

The Hague, Netherlands

International Institute of Social Studies ISS

The Hague, Netherlands
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Borras Jr. S.M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS | Borras Jr. S.M.,Transnational Institute TNI | Borras Jr. S.M.,Food First Institute of Food and Development Policy | Borras Jr. S.M.,China Agricultural University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Agrarian Change | Year: 2012

'Land grab' has become a catch-all phrase to refer to the current explosion of (trans)national commercial land transactions mainly revolving around the production and export of food, animal feed, biofuels, timber and minerals. Two key dimensions of the current land grab - namely, the politics of changes in land use and property relations change (and the links between them) - are not sufficiently explored in the current literature. We attempt to address this gap by offering a preliminary analysis through an analytical approach that suggests some typologies as a step towards a fuller and better understanding of the politics of global land grabbing. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Edelman M.,York College - The City University of New York | Weis T.,University of Western Ontario | Baviskar A.,Institute of Economic Growth | Borras S.M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2014

Visions of food sovereignty have been extremely important in helping to galvanize broad-based and diverse movements around the need for radical changes in agro-food systems. Yet while food sovereignty has thrived as a ‘dynamic process’, until recently there has been insufficient attention to many thorny questions, such as its origins, its connection to other food justice movements, its relation to rights discourses, the roles of markets and states and the challenges of implementation. This essay contributes to food sovereignty praxis by pushing the process of critical self-reflection forward and considering its relation to critical agrarian studies – and vice versa. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Borras Jr. S.M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS | Franco J.C.,Transnational Institute TNI | Gomez S.,FAO Regional Office | Kay C.,ISS | Spoor M.,ISS
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2012

Land grabbing has gained momentum in Latin America and the Caribbean during the past decade. The phenomenon has taken different forms and character as compared to processes that occur in other regions of the world, especially Africa. It puts into question some of the assumptions in the emerging literature on land grabbing, suggesting these are too food-centered/too food crisis-centered, too land-centred, too centred on new global food regime players - China, South Korea, Gulf States and India - and too centred on Africa. There are four key mechanisms through which land grabbing in Latin American and the Caribbean has been carried out: food security initiatives, energy/fuel security ventures, other climate change mitigation strategies, and recent demands for resources from newer hubs of global capital. The hallmark of land grabbing in the region is its intra-regional character: the key investors are (Trans-)Latin American companies, often in alliance with international capital and the central state. Initial evidence suggests that recent land investments have consolidated the earlier trend away from (re)distributive land policies in most countries in the region, and are likely to result in widespread reconcentration of land and capital. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


McKay B.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS | Nehring R.,Cornell University | Walsh-Dilley M.,Cornell University
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2014

The concept of food sovereignty has been enshrined in the constitutions of a number of countries around the world without any clear consensus around what state-sponsored ‘food sovereignty’ might entail. At the forefront of this movement are the countries of the so-called ‘pink tide’ of Latin America – chiefly Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. This paper examines how state commitments to food sovereignty have been put into practice in these three countries, asking if and how efforts by the state contribute to significant transformation or if they simply serve the political purposes of elites. Understanding the state as a complex arena of class struggle, we suggest that state efforts around food sovereignty open up new political spaces in an ongoing struggle around control over food systems at different scales. Embedded in food sovereignty is a contradictory notion of sovereignty, requiring simultaneously a strong developmentalist state and the redistribution of power to facilitate direct control over food systems in ways that may threaten the state. State-society relations, particularly across scales, are therefore a central problematic of food sovereignty projects. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Hunsberger C.,University of Western Ontario | Alonso-Fradejas A.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2016

‘Flex crops’ such as corn, oil palm and soy are understood to have multiple, interchangeable uses; they have material flexibility. We propose that discursive flexibility – the ability to strategically switch between discourses to promote an objective – equally shapes the political economy of flex crops, and thereby patterns of agrarian and environmental change. Comparing oil palm and Jatropha curcas, we find that actors who cast oil palm as a multi-scale solution to food and energy insecurity, climate change and (rural) poverty successfully reinforce its high material flexibility. Jatropha's proponents compensate for low material flexibility by positioning the crop as a ‘sustainable’ energy source that achieves both global and local goals. While this paper focuses on discourses that reinforce the oil palm and jatropha projects, understanding the power of discursive maneuvering can also inform efforts to contest them. © 2016 Taylor & Francis.


Alonso-Fradejas A.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS | Liu J.,Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University | Salerno T.,University of Amsterdam | Xu Y.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2016

Oil palm production and consumption, and the trade of its multiple commodities, have expanded exponentially in recent decades. This paper argues that this expansion will continue due to, and along with, the rise of ‘flexing’ among its increasing multiple uses, especially for more industrial and energy purposes. Oil palm has been extensively analysed in the context of land grabs and agrarian change, land conversion and deforestation. However, its nature as a flex crop remains unexplored, especially with respects to the convergence of global food, fuel and environmental crises. This paper provides a preliminary discussion of how oil palm fits in the flex-crop framework to analyse its enabling material and ideational bases, as well as who informs, decides and controls the nature of flexing. This is done through an analysis of the different roles played by state, corporate (private) and social actors in the flexing of oil palm across the globe. We conclude by drawing some implications for further research. © 2016 Taylor & Francis.


Robbins M.J.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Third World Quarterly | Year: 2015

The ‘localisation’ narrative is at the heart of food sovereignty in theory and practice, in reaction to the ‘distance’ dimension in the dominant industrial food system. But while it is a central element in food sovereignty, it is under-theorised and largely unproblematised. Using the theoretical concepts of food regime analysis, uneven geographical development and metabolic rift, the author presents an exploratory discussion on the localisation dimension of food sovereignty, arguing that not all local food systems are a manifestation of food sovereignty nor do they all help build the alternative model that food sovereignty proposes. The paper differentiates local food systems by examining character, method and scale and illustrates how local food systems rarely meet the ideal type of either food sovereignty or the capitalist industrial model. In order to address five forms of distance inherent in the global industrial food system, localisation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for food sovereignty. A more comprehensive food sovereignty needs to be constructed and may still be constrained by the context of capitalism and mediated by the social movements whence it comes. © 2015, © 2015 Southseries Inc., www.thirdworldquarterly.com.


Schneider M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2014

'Meat grabbing' describes actually existing land deals undertaken for industrial meat production, either directly in the form of animal housing and stocking (confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs), or indirectly in the form of monocrop grain and oilseed production for livestock feed. Meat grabbing is also a concept for analyzing the relationships between industrial meat regimes, food security politics and the global land rush, relationships which have not yet been sufficiently considered in research or in policy. Using China's reform-era meat revolution as an analytical case, this paper proposes meat grabbing as a concept with three broad goals: (1) to show how industrial meat complicates notions of food security and of food security land grabs, (2) to incorporate social inequalities and environmental injustices into the conceptualization and measurement of land deals and (3) to expand dispossession's domain to include relationships between people and agroecosystems. This is an initial exploration of the content and framing of meat grabs, intended to synthesize its core features and raise questions for further study. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Schneider M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Agriculture and Human Values | Year: 2015

For centuries, China’s farmers practiced agriculture in ways that sustained a high level of food production without depleting or deteriorating local resources. These were smallholder farmers, who came to be called peasants, or nongmin, in the early twentieth century. Narratives on the figure of the peasant have changed dramatically and often in the intervening years, expressing broader political debates, and suggesting the question, “what, then, is a Chinese peasant?” This paper attempts to answer that question in the context of reform era China (post-1978). Using a critical discourse analysis of nongmin in contemporary political and popular discourse, the paper aims to further clarify politics on the figure of the peasant in China today, specifically in relation to state policy on rural and agricultural development. The central argument is that in addition to complex meanings and uses of nongmin, a Chinese peasant is also a social category used by political and economic elites to stand in for the ills of China’s agrifood system, and to promote a model of development that tries to separate the country’s current trajectory from its long agrarian history. In the context of state-led agroindustrialization aimed at developing a robust domestic agribusiness sector, both peasants as a social form and smallholding as an agricultural form are targets for capitalist transformation. Put another way, political discourses define peasants and small-scale farming as China’s agrifood “problems” for which further capitalist industrialization is posed as the only and inevitable “solution.” The paper concludes by arguing that changing China’s current trajectory away from the crises of industrial agriculture will require also changing the discursive frame: it is agroindustrialization that is the problem, for which nongmin and China’s tradition of smallholder farming are part of the solution. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Schiavoni C.M.,International Institute of Social Studies ISS
Globalizations | Year: 2015

Abstract: This article explores how ‘competing sovereignties’ are shaping the political construction of food sovereignty—broadly defined as ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems'. This study was motivated by a lack of clarity on the ‘sovereignty’ of food sovereignty, as noted by numerous scholars—sovereignty for whom, and how? As there is a growing consensus that there are in fact ‘multiple sovereignties’ of food sovereignty that cut across jurisdictions and scales, there is the question of how these sovereignties are competing with each other in the attempted construction of food sovereignty. This question is becoming ever more relevant as food sovereignty is increasingly adopted into state policy at various levels, calling for state and societal actors to redefine their terms of engagement. This article explores questions of ‘competing sovereignties’ by developing an analytical framework, using the lenses of scale, geography, and institutions, and applying it to Venezuela, where for the past 15 years a food sovereignty experiment has been underway in the context of a dynamic shift in state–society relations. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

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