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Structural transformation of the countryside

Oct 24, 2019 - Oct 25, 2019

Speakers: Cristóbal Kay, Loka Ashwood, Ray Bush, Rita Calvario, Beatriz Cid Aguayo, Gordon Crawford, Kristina Dietz, Bettina Engels, Harriet Friedmann, Elisa Greco, Cristiano Lanzano, Jens Lerche, Facundo Martín, Giuliano Martiniello, Grasian Mkodzongi, Karine Peschard and Nicholas Copeland.

Download the workshop programme here.

The workshop aims at examining changes of social structures that shape rural life and livelihoods and the subjectivities of rural people. By social structures, we mean those structuring principles of society which are, in general, difficult to transform, in the short term, by individual and collective action. In capitalist societies, these are primarily social relations of capital and labour, i.e. class relations manifested in differentiated positions in the production process and differentiated access to and ownership of resources, e.g. land, technology, seeds, and labour. Class relations, as a matter of course, intersect with manifold other social relations, such as gender, generation, race, ethnicity, etc.

The workshop will discuss the following questions:

How are dominant social structures in the rural world shaped?
How have they emerged over time?
How are they perceived and felt by rural people?
How are they politically enforced?
How can they be transformed, and by whom? What are entry points for emancipatory political strategies?

These questions will be discussed in view of the crisis of social and ecological reproduction in the countryside created by a capitalist political economy that ignores the reproduction needs of both humans and nature. Beyond that, structural transformations in the countryside will be discussed amidst the global conjuncture of rising authoritarianism and right-wing populism both supported and defeated by rural people. The workshop will be organized in four thematic panels:

Panel 1: Political economy of rural change

The aim of this panel is to discuss how social relations of production and reproduction are shaped by political-economic forces that penetrate the countryside. Various sectors will be taken into account, such as global food production and agriculture, resource extraction, and energy production.

In particular, we want to address the following questions:

  • How do the commodification of land and labour, the extraction, privatization, and valorization of resources, the digitalization, mechanization and financialization of rural production shape social relations (e.g. labour, class, gender and society-nature relations)?
  • How are the effects of these processes felt by rural people? How are rural lives being transformed with regard to social reproduction?
  • Who is benefitting, who is losing?

Panel 2: Rural politics in times of crisis

This panel will focus on rural politics in times of multiple crises: The crisis of subsistence in many parts of the global countryside; the financial and economic crisis of global capitalism that has pushed on commodification and enclosure of resources; and the rise of right wing populism and authoritarian rule both supported and defeated by rural people.

Main questions will be:

  • What are the interconnections between these crises and rural politics?
  • What are the effects of these crises on rural class struggle?
  • To what extent do rural people become revolutionary or reactionary in times of crises?

Panel 3: Rural policies and structural transformation

Structural transformations in the countryside are not a self-reinforcing or path-dependent process triggered by economic forces. Economic needs require political enforcement. Therefore rural policies and institutions are crucial.

The panel will address the following questions:

  • What are the relations between rural policies and structural change?
  • How have rural policies changed against the background of the multiple crises tendencies?
  • Who are the actors influencing rural policies?
  • Under what conditions do rural policies foster or hinder structural changes towards emancipation?

Panel 4: Movements, subjects and strategies

Rural structural transformation might be directed towards different visions of the society and political economy. This panel deals with those actors and their strategies striving for more democratic and egalitarian social relations in the countryside.

These are the questions we wish to discuss:

  • How can dominant social structures in the countryside be transformed, and by whom?
  • What are entry points for emancipatory political strategies?

Time & Location

Oct 24, 2019 - Oct 25, 2019

Hotel Aquino Tagungszentrum,
Hannoversche Straße 5b,
10115 Berlin

Further Information