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Agrarian Studies Summer School

The past three decades have witnessed the further weakening of rural livelihoods, exclusive growth and the promotion of land markets. The failure of the development project in many parts of the Global South (Asia, Latin America and Africa), particularly connected to the structural adjustment programmes in the past decades has increased the dependence on ‘development experts’ whilst weakening African scholarship. In this context, the SMAIAS has sought to reinvigorate the debates by promoting critical thinking and analysis among a wider range of African scholars and activists in the context of a South South Collaboration. 

Since 2009, the SMAIAS has organised the Annual International Agrarian Summer School. This event provides an important platform for African Scholarship and their counterparts in the Global South, to engage with alternative perspectives, reflect and deepen dialogue about the challenges of Agrarian change.

Established scholars, researchers, activists and young scholars from universities and other institutions in a broad spectrum of countries in both the Global South and North: including South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, Brazil (Brasilia and Belo Horizonte), India, US, UK, France, Germany and Norway have participated in this event.

Agrarian Summer Schools 2009-2013: Themes

The first edition of the Agrarian Studies Summer School in 2009 was held in Harare under theme “Social Movements and the Agrarian Question”.

the 2010 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held in Tanzania under theme “The Agrarian Question: Historical Trajectories and Contemporary Policy Alternatives”.

The 2011 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Global Crisis, Scramble and Agrarian Reform in the South” at Rhodes University from the 17th  to 22nd of January.

The 2012 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Agrarian Question in Africa in the face of multiple Global Crises” in Harare from the 16th  to 20th  of January.

The 2013 Agrarian Studies Summer School was held under the theme “Political Economy of Food Sovereignty in the Global South” in Harare from the 14th to 18th January.


What We Have Achieved

The Agrarian Studies Summer School has enabled the SMAIAS to maintain institutional space for African academics, young scholars and CSOs to engage in land and agrarian reform debates.  It provides a forum to engage diverse interests drawn from academic, research, policy, and activist milieus internationally, around the neglected Agrarian Question.  To date, Agrarian Studies Summer School has welcomed participants from the ‘Global South’ continents of Latin America, Africa and India, as well as from the US, and Europe in the ‘Global North’ which has significantly contributed to deeper understandings about the consequences of particular problems in different contexts.  Countries represented at this year’s event included: Brazil, the US, France, Senegal, Norway, Germany, Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, South Africa, Kenya, Mauritania, Botswana, India and Zimbabwe.  The ensuing debates have served as a springboard for critical new research studies on contemporary agrarian problems such as the New Scramble for Africa’s natural resources.

As a regular forum centred on Agrarian questions affecting primarily the Global South, it has been a catalyst to the development the South-South Network which brings together African, Latin American and Asian scholars to conduct comparative studies, policy dialogues and publishing through a free e-journal. A significant achievement was the emergeance of an Agrarian Studies Consortium to support post graduate training and promote collaborative research and policy analysis activities with CSO activists.

The Agrarian Studies Summer School is continuously developing a critical mass of young scholars and civil society activists with the aim of developing a critical mass of young intellectuals and activists who can play a leading role in the analysis and design of solutions to Africa’s agrarian problems.

Illustrating the successful impacts this event has been able to achieve, the journal Les Afriques January 31, 2013 edition ran an important feature article on emerging lessons from Zimbabwe’s land reform examined at this year’s Summer School.

Read our free English translation of the article originally published in French.


AIAS is a regional organisation that seeks to influence land and agrarian reform policies through multidisciplinary social science research, policy dialogues, training, networking and information dissemination