Call for Papers: Rural History 2019 Panel – Bringing back the Agrarian Question

RHN 180/2018 | Call

Organisers: Elisa Botella-Rodríguez, University of Salamanca (USAL), Spain, Wilson Picado-Umaña, Universidad Nacional (UNA), Costa Rica, Alma Amalia González, CIMSUR-UNAM, Mexico, and Ángel Luis González-Esteban, Universidad Nacional a Distancia (UNED), Spain

Rural History 2019, 10-13 September 2019, Paris, France

Deadline for paper proposals: 1 February 2019


Call for Papers:
Rural History 2019 Panel
Bringing back the Agrarian Question. Territories and Sustainability in Latin America from a Global Perspective (1900-2018)

The agrarian question is a historical, persistent and structural problem in Latin America, the most unequal region worldwide. Land is even more unequal in the region than income distribution where the Gini coefficient for income is 0.48 compared with 0.79 for land (OXFAM, 2016). Since the early 1900s, land inequality has been the root of struggles and revolutions in the subcontinent. Mexico during the Revolution ("La tierra para quien la trabaja", claimed by Emiliano Zapata), the Cuban Revolution or the MST in Brazil. These tensions also enhanced continuing state-led interventions to redistribute land from large landowners to the peasantry. However, Import Substitution Industrialisation placed agriculture in a secondary role while state-led programmes resulted in a new era of agriculture capitalism. Leaving behind and accelerating the disappearance of old rural oligarchies dominant in the subcontinent until 1945, land was re-concentrated by old or new owners versus the limited role of small farmers in the new process of modernisation and agricultural growth. However, some spaces remained for autonomous indigenous communities, cooperatives and peasant economies. They had an active role in different land reforms processes.

The Global Food Crisis (2007-2008) and the increasing role of transnational peasant movements reopened the debate on land redistribution and the role of small farmers to produce food for national consumption. The rise of forest conservation policies, extractivism based on agribusiness plantations and large scale mining, and international drug trafficking nets also shaped the dimensions and features of the new agrarian question in the region. Whereas the land problem was mainly focussed on concentration, land tenancy and agricultural modernisation during the XXth Century, land is currently more attached to environmental services appropriation, communal and ethnical rights, ecological awareness and the expansion of GMOs and agrofuels. This panel offers a multidisciplinary and updated debate on the land question and its new dimensions in Latin America. Accordingly, we call for research on the complexity of agrarian change in the region as well as the study of global and local processes at the territorial level. Finally, long-term historical research and proposals on the new dimensions and characteristics of the agrarian question in Latin America are very welcome.

Panel contributions:
Wilson Picado and Elisa Botella, De facto Agrarian Reform in Costa Rica. Forest, Monocrop and Land Tenancy over the Long Run
Alma Amalia González, Social Dynamics in Frailesca region, Chiapas: between ejidatarios and "the others"



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