Call for Papers: Rural History 2019 Panel – Global and Comparative Perspectives on the Organic Farming Movement

RHN 5/2019 | Call

Organisers: Benoît Leroux (GRESCO, Université de Poitiers, France) and Delphine Thivet (Centre Emile Durkheim, Université de Bordeaux, France)

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

Deadline for paper proposals: 28 January 2019

Call for Papers:
Rural History 2019 Panel
From Contestation to Incorporation? Global and Comparative Perspectives on the Organic Farming Movement (20th-21st centuries)

This panel aims to explore the tensions within the organic farming movement in a historical perspective. Its main objective is to contextualize the birth, development, institutionalization of sustainable agriculture in time and space. As a concept, organic agriculture is often said to have began in the early part of the twentieth century, primarily in Europe, but also in Japan, Australia and the United States, as a reaction to rapidly changing farming practices and the “modernization” of agriculture. The pioneers of the early organic movement were indeed motivated by a will to reverse the environmental and social issues associated with agriculture. In this respect, they embraced a holistic approach to agriculture and promoted agricultural practices in balance with the natural environment. While the organic movement represented at its beginnings a form of social resistance to and a critique of conventional industrial and productivist forms of agriculture, occurring at the periphery of dominant agriculture and food systems, its gradual intertwining with the state and the market has raised questions about its “conventionalisation”, coinciding with the emergence of so-called “green capitalism”. The purpose of this panel is to initiate a conversation among participants on these tensions and the ways they structure the field of organic farming in different national contexts. Bringing together different national histories of the organic movement will help to further our understanding of its socio-economic, political, and spatial dynamics. Connecting national histories with global history will also contribute to “deprovincialize” them and to acknowledge the differing trajectories of agro-ecologisation of practices in multiple regions and time periods. The history of organic farming movement will be studied from a variety of disciplinary approaches and will be traced through published and un-published historic sources including oral histories, national/regional legislation and regulations, farmers unions and environmental associations archives, etc. 

This panel welcomes historical case studies on the organic farming movement drawn from all periods and places and invites that address any one or more of the following topics:
- Exploring the social space of the organic farming movement in historical perspective: what were the social characteristics of the pioneering intellectuals and farmers of the organic farming movement? How do their position in their respective “social space” can highlight the intellectual principles and broad social, environmental, and health values underlying the organic farming movement?
- Analyzing the politics of organic farming: which groups on the left and right of the political spectrum have contributed to the promotion of organic farming? Especially, what role has the agrarian ideology played in the organic farming movement?
- Connecting the local with the global: what are the trans/international knowledge networks, research and advocacy organisations, regional/international institutional channels that have contributed to the dissemination and diffusion of agro-ecological practices in different countries? What are the local conflicts, contestations, and appropriations emerging from these circulations?
- Discussing the emergence of “conventionalisation phenomena”, that is, the integration of the organic farming practices into the conventional agricultural model, resulting in many of the same social, technical and economic characteristics: in which ways does this process of acculturation occur and to what extent does it undermine the organic farming’s transformative socio-ecological potential?

Proposals should include a short abstract (up to 400 words) introducing the topic, its scope and approach, and should join a pdf file with a one-page CV.

Proposals should be submitted by January 28, 2019, to: 

  • Dr. Benoît Leroux, Associate Professor (GRESCO, Université de Poitiers, France),
  • Dr. Delphine Thivet, Associate Professor (Centre Emile Durkheim, Université de Bordeaux, France),

as well as via the Online Submission Tool:

Code number of the panel: 231547

Conference Website:

Source: H-Rural