Call for Papers: Rural History 2017 Panel - The Congrès d’Agriculture and the international networks of agriculturalists (c. 1880–1930)

RHN 83/2016 | Call

Organisers: Federico D’Onofrio (Université de Lausanne) and Niccolò Mignemi (École française de Rome)

11-14 September 2017, Leuven, Belgium

Deadline for submissions: 10 October 2016

Panel at the Rural History 2017 Conference:
The Congrès d’Agriculture and the international networks of agriculturalists (c. 1880–1930)

The first globalization, with its intense downward pressure on agricultural prices, convinced agriculturalists to organize in different countries. It also set in motion the creation of organizations involving agriculturalists from different countries. This was especially true in Europe, where farmers seemed to share concerns in opposition both to the pressure exerted by the periphery of the world-system and to the internal threat of class struggle.

Ever since 1889, when the first agricultural congress took place in Paris, the agricultural congresses provided an invaluable forum of discussion and coordination to agriculturalists of Europe.

The Congrès, just like other associations that, in the same period, had the alleged goal of representing the whole of agriculture, was led by conservative landlords very much concerned with class struggle. The French agrarian élites held the leadership during the first years of the Congrès and Jules Méline was the president of the Commission Internationale d’Agriculture, since the creation in 1891 until 1923. But other countries and other forces emerged over time (the German cooperative movement, the technocrats of the young Italian State etc.) and one of the goals of this session is to examine how this organisation met the interests of different national communities that ended up shaping it. And how national or interest groups could influence the evolution of scientific and technical debates on agriculture, over the different editions of the congresses and through the different actions taken by the Commission Internationale d’Agriculture.

Another goal of the session is to understand the relationship between the Congrès and other international organisations or initiatives of the same period, in particular the rival International Institute of Agriculture born in 1905 and based in Rome. Did competition or cooperation prevail?

How the post First World War influenced the agenda of the Commission Internationale d’Agriculture? Which influence on the congresses had the new international environment determined by the creation of the League of Nations and the Bureau International du Travail? Was there any relationship with the new international networks issued from the Bureau International Agraire (1922), the communist Krestintern (1923) or the Commission Internationale Permanente des Associations agricoles (1927)?

We also know that in a world ridden by commercial conflicts the international solidarity of farmers was little more than a myth, as national debates between protectionism and free trade demonstrate. In this session we ask therefore how effective the congresses were in coordinating European farmers and in consistently lobbying for them.

Submissions may deal with one or more of the following points:

  • How do the international and national levels interact within the framework of the Congrès? Was the agenda of each congress replicating the concerns of the hosting country? And, conversely, were international concerns shaping national agendas?
  • Is it possible to retrace the development of certain topics (fight against plant pests and diseases or rural credit, for instance) based on the debates that took place at the congresses?
  • Who are the relevant actors of the Congrès movement? What are the role and the career paths of national and international experts in agricultural matters?
  • How is the network of international exchanges between experts and associations organized? How does it work?
  • Is international coordination effective in fostering the agenda of the member associations?

We welcome all proposals on the topic of transnational associations of agriculturalists in the period between the Long Depression and the Second World War. One of the goals of this panel is to start a collaboration between researchers working on these topics in different countries.

Please send an abstract (max. 250 words) and a short CV to and before October 10 2016.