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Critical Agrarian Studies Books

The Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies small book series Open Access ebook edition is now available. This means you can download, save, read and share all the books in this series here:

“State of the art small books”

There remains a significant gap in meeting the needs of academics (teachers, scholars and students), social movement activists and development practitioners in the global South and the North for scientifically rigorous yet accessible, politically relevant, policy-oriented and affordable books in critical agrarian studies. In response to this need, we launched this series. The idea is to publish “state of the art small books” that will explain a specific development issue based on key questions, including: What are the current issues and debates in this particular topic and who are the key scholars/thinkers and actual policy practitioners? How have such positions developed over time? What are the possible future trajectories? What are the key reference materials?

And why and how is it important for NGO professionals, social movement activists, official development aid circle and nongovernmental donor agencies, students, academics, researchers and policy experts to critically engage with the key points explained in the book? Each book will combine theoretical and policy-oriented discussion with empirical examples from different national and local settings.

The first ten books

We have published the first ten books in the series as an Open Access edition. These ten volumes fit together well in terms of themes, accessibility, relevance and rigour. We are excited about the bright future of this important series!

Agrarian political economy investigates the social relations of production and reproduction, property and power in agrarian formations, and how they change. Using Marx’s theory of capitalism the book argues that class dynamics should be the starting point of any analysis of agrarian change. As an introduction to agrarian political economy, this book includes explanations and applications of its key concepts, a glossary of analytical terms, and a historical approach and framework for examining agrarian change in capitalism. The author assumes no prior knowledge of political economy on the part of readers but aims, through this stimulating introduction, to encourage them to study it further.

“The most sweeping, original, and discerning class analysis of agrarian history in many decades… essential reading for any and all agraristas both inside and outside the academy.” — James C. Scott, Yale University

“Bernstein shows that a ‘little book’ can be a tour de force. Decades of scholarship are lightly worn and compellingly revealed in this treasure chest of a book. It should be essential reading for all development students and activists.” — Barbara Harriss-White, University of Oxford

Peasants and the Art of Farming

by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

The Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies Series by the Initiatives in CriticalAgrarian Studies (leAs) features “state of the art small books on big issues;” each of which explain a specific development issue based on key questions. The questions include: What are the current issues and debates in the particular topic? Who are the key scholars/ thinkers and policy practitioners? How have the positions emerged and developed over time? What are the pOSSible future trajectories? What are the key reference materials? Why and how it is important for NGO professionals, social movement activitists, official development aid and non-governmental donor agencies, students, academics, researchers and policy experts to critically engage with the key points explained in the book? Each book combines theoretical and policy-oriented discussion with empirical examples from different national and local settings.

“This is an extraordinarily important book. It should become a classic. It is a must for every development professional. It is a masterly analysis and overview of the evolution and dimensions of the sustainable livelihoods approach, and opens up new territory of political economy, political ecology and a new politics of livelihoods. Concise yet comprehensive, combining and drawing on the perspectives of many disciplines, accessible to all readers, professionally impeccable, and on top of all this, original in its analysis and extension into new fields, this book is a wonderful contribution to development thinking and action. May it be very widely read, and may it be very influential.”

Robert Chambers, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

Political Dynamics of Transnational Agrarian Movements

by Marc Edelman, Saturnino M. Borras, Jr.

“In Political Dynamics of Transnational Agrarian Movements, Edelman and Borras had a hard row to hoe: they not only strove to provide detailed information on a menu of transnational agrarian movements about which we know far too li!le, they also dug deep into the domestic soil of many of them, analyzing their regional, class, and ideological composition, their relations with ngos and international institutions, and how they took on global neoliberalism. No less important for a book that covers so much ground, it is a joy to read.”

Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University, author of “e New Transnational Activism

Agrarian Change, Migration and Development

by Henry Veltmeyer, Raúl Delgado Wise

“The authors skilfully and effectively destroy six common myths about the migration and development nexus that I found most revealing and enlightening. Instead they propose an alternative understanding of this nexus drawing on critical development theory. !is text is an admirable addition to this multilingual book series that challenges the dominant neoliberal paradigm and its policies.”

Cristóbal Kay, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

Agroecology: Science and Politics

by Peter M Rosset, Miguel A Altieri

“This is a timely and excellent book by two world leaders of agroecological thought and practice. In this highly readable book, Peter Rosset and Miguel Altieri o”er a clear analysis of the principles of agroecology and its potential to address major social, economic and environmental challenges of food and farming in the 21st century. Most notably, the book demonstrates the importance of social organization, peasant agroecology schools and social movements for bringing agroecology to scale. By focusing on the contested nature of the science of agroecology and its contemporary politics, the authors invite the reader to embrace an agroecology that transforms — rather than conforms with — the dominant agri-food regime. A stimulating read!”

Michel Pimbert, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University

Speculative Harvests

by Jennifer Clapp, S. Ryan Isakson

Speculative Harvests: Financialization, Food, and Agriculture by Jennifer Clapp and Ryan Isakson is the eighth volume in the Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies Series from ICAS (Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies). The first volume is Henry Bernstein’s Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change, followed by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg’s Peasants and the Art of Farming, Philip McMichael’s Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions, Ian Scoones’ Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development, Marc Edelman and Saturnino M. Borras Jr.’s Politics of Transnational Agrarian Movements, Henry Veltmeyer and Raul Delgado Wise’s Agrarian Change, Migration and Development, and Peter Rosset and Miguel Altieri’s Agroecology: Science and Politics. Together, these eight books reaffirm the strategic importance and relevance of applying agrarian political economy analytical lenses in agrarian studies today. They suggest that succeeding volumes in the series will be just as politically relevant and scientifically rigorous.

“This little gem of a book explores the vexed question of the apparent global aversion of young people to becoming farmers. Richly illustrated with historical and contemporary examples, it demonstrates the complex links between class, gender and generational relations in agrarian households and communities, that are necessary to proper understanding of their generational reproduction.”

Henry Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the University of London

Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions extends the original conception of the food regime, formulated by Harriet Friedmann and Philip McMichael, detailing new dimensions of the succession of imperial, intensive and corporate food regimes. Developing the methodological contributions of food regime analysis, McMichael re-examines the agrarian question historically and its present-day implications. He introduces regional interpretations of the food regime, incorporating gender, labour, financial, ecological and nutritional dimensions into his analysis. Finally, McMichael explores the relationships between contemporary food, energy, climate and financial crises and food regime restructuring, which includes such topics as agrofuels, land grabbing, the bioeconomy, agro-security mercantilism and the food sovereignty movement.

Counter Revolution

by Walden Bello

The far right is on the rise. The rhetoric of anger and resentment emanating from personalities like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Rodrigo Duterte and Viktor Orban is captivating and mobilizing large numbers of people. In an increasing number of countries, the extreme right has already captured the government or is on the threshold of power.

While this swift turn of events has shocked or surprised many in the North, the extreme right’s seizure of power is not an uncommon event in the South. In Counterrevolution, Walden Bello deconstructs the challenge from the far right by deploying what he calls the dialectic of revolution and counterrevolution and harnesses the methods of comparative history and comparative sociology. Using case studies from Italy in the 1920s, Indonesia in the 1960s, Chile in the 1970s and contemporary Thailand, India and the Philippines, Bello lays bare the origins, dynamics and consequences of counterrevolutionary movements. Reflections on the rise of the right in the United States, Europe and Brazil round out this remarkable and timely study by one of the premier intellectuals of the South.

Scholar-Activism and Land Struggles

by Saturnino M. Borras, Jennifer C. Franco

This book is about scholar-activism and political struggles for land. Scholar-activism is a way of working that tries to change society by combining the best features of radical academic and political activist traditions, despite the many contradictions and challenges that this entails. The role played by scholar-activists in land struggles is important, but is not straightforward. This book unapologetically celebrates the contributions of scholar-activism in land struggles and scholarship, but more than this, it is about exploring the contradictions and challenges facing scholar-activism. It is neither a glorification of the achievements of scholar-activism, nor a set of prescriptive propositions on how to ‘do’ scholar-activism. Rather, it addresses contentious issues in scholar-activism, many of which are rarely discussed, or are discussed only gingerly and awkwardly when they cannot be avoided. It is a book written by two scholar-activists who have focused their individual and collaborative research and activist works on the politics of land and the role played by radical agrarian movements. Insights in this book are drawn on the experiences of the authors working in the three main sites of global knowledge circuits: academic institutions, independent research institutions oriented to practical politics, and left-wing agrarian movements.

Book series editors:

  • Saturnino (Jun) M. Borras Jr., International Institute of Social Studies
  • (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Ruth Hall, PLAAS, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • Max Spoor, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Henry Veltmeyer, Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico
  • Jingzhong Ye, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China

Supporting institutions and co-publishers