Climate change and agrarian studies: new essay and call for abstracts


As world leaders gather for the COP26 summit in Glasgow, a new, open access essay in the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS) – ‘Climate change and agrarian struggles’ – offers a different angle on the climate change debate to the mainstream policy discussions.

Abstracts for contributions to a new series are invited by 15 November 2021.

The essay kicks off a new JPS Forum and is an invitation to submit contributions to extend the discussion. The essay argues that climate change is inextricably entwined with contemporary capitalism, but suggests that the relationship between how capitalism and climate change plays out in the rural world requires deeper analysis. In particular, the way agrarian struggles connect with the huge challenge of climate change is a vital focus for both thinking and action.

Written by members of the JPS editorial collective (including STEPS co-director, Ian Scoones), the essay lays out a preliminary agenda for future work linking climate change to critical agrarian studies and identifies three overlapping clusters of questions:

  • How and in what specific, local and global ways, does climate change differ from past environmental exclusions or threats? What combinations of narratives and strategies frame climate change and the institutionalised responses to it in agrarian settings? What exclusions and inclusions result from this?
  • How are different people — in relation to class and other co-constituted axes of social difference such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, occupation — affected by climate change and the institutionalised responses to it in agrarian settings? How does this affect processes of social differentiation, trajectories of accumulation and in turn agrarian politics?
  • What political logics and strategies can together act to ‘erode capitalism’ and so the causes of climate change? How can these be central to agrarian struggles now and in the future? How might these operate in contexts of ‘authoritarian populism’ and what progressive, emancipatory coalitions and alliances can be forged?

Overall the essay asks, can we envision a sufficiently anti-capitalist, trans-environmental and agrarian approach to confront climate change in rural settings, and what would this look like in practice?  Connecting concerns around climate change and critical agrarian studies, and so deepening debates around agrarian struggles, is long overdue, and the new JPS Forum is an invitation to others to contribute to the debate.

How to submit an abstract

Abstracts of not more than 500 words, together with a short bio of author(s) should be submitted not later than 15 November 2021 to [email protected] for selection for potential publication in JPS.

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