Agrarian Crossroads: Rural Aspirations and Capitalist Transformation

Questions of agrarian transformation have been a staple of the social sciences since its early days, and they remain crucial in the twenty-first century.

Today, the intensification of plantation economies and the ubiquity of extractive activities continue to shape profoundly unequal exchanges of resources and labor and wreak havoc on rural economies, ecologies, and social relations.

However, agrarian transformations and processes of capitalist restructuring of the countryside more broadly are not exclusively the outcome of the predatory maneuvering of external forces; they are also informed by rural aspirations for alternative futures and new possibilities that are internalized and reproduced locally. In the cracks of the dire picture of violent land grabbing, industrialization, and extraction we encounter people and communities who navigate the shifting economic, social, and political seas of the ongoing transformation of rural spaces. Though often situated at the margins of the grand schemes of agrarian transformation, local people seek to make meaningful connections and disconnections to the capitalization of space, resources, and social relations. In this seminar, we zoom in on how people, even in the direst of circumstances, continue to aspire, plan, think about futures, and create strategic and tactical pathways towards these. We argue that the ways in which people aspire are shaped in a contentious space where the desire for new social, economic, and political orders is projected into the future to shape the present.

The seminar is based on a coming special issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies. It features an introductory talk by the guest editors, and short interventions by five of the contributing authors. We conclude with refreshments and snacks.


Rune Bolding Bennike, Mattias Borg Rasmussen, and Kenneth Bo Nielsen: “Introduction to agrarian crossroads”

Jostein Jakobsen and Kenneth Bo Nielsen: “Compounding aspirations: grounding hegemonic processes in India's rural transformations”

Mariel Aguilar-Støen: “Between a rock and a hard place: rural transformations and migrant communities in Guatemala”

Rune Bolding Bennike: “Himalayan futures: tourism and the anticipation of development”

Mattias Borg Rasmussen: “Contradictions of community: capitalist relations in highland Peru”

Tags: Asia, asianettverket, Rural Transformations
Published Jan. 13, 2020 12:52 PM - Last modified Oct. 30, 2020 2:39 PM