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Concept Note and Call for Papers for Summer School - 2018

Theme: Global Agricultural Value Networks and Contract Farming in the Contemporary Global South

15 – 19 January 2018, Harare


The main theme of the forthcoming Summer School 2018 extends the primary concerns of the Summer School 2017, which explored the diversity of labour questions in the Global South, to focus primarily on the countryside and, in particular, the functioning of corporate and contract farming, and the associated global agricultural value networks (GAVNs). There will also be a secondary focus on the extractive industries and associated value networks which often operate alongside agriculture. The ascendency of the so-called Global Commodity Chains (GCCs)/Global Value Chains (GVCs)/Global Supply Chains (GSCs)/Global Production Networks (GPNs) in the recent decades is generally well acknowledged. This has happened across all major sectors of the economy, from the extractive and industrial to the service sectors, and agriculture is no exception in this regard. In fact, a handful of global firms and corporations have come to occupy significant power in the agricultural value networks around the world in several activities, which include inter alia retail chains in final products, supply of agri-inputs such as seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, and research and development.

Agricultural Value Network: Mechanism

In a very simple/literal sense, the global agricultural value networks (GAVNs) include a set of actors, linked in a sequence of activities, which add value in bringing/supplying a product from its raw material stage to the final consumer. Such actors range from large international and domestic corporates/business houses, agribusiness companies, public and private research and development agencies, trading and procurement agencies, etc. on the one hand to farmers, peasants and landless labourers on the other. Activities of such networks are facilitated by the government agri-policies as also by the powerful international institutions. As is also well-known, in the recent years multilateral agencies have often emerged as strong advocates of promoting the so called ‘responsible investments’ through such GAVNs. These reports often provide very optimistic accounts of GAVNs and the champion the role of big corporations in different ways e.g. as suppliers, distributors, traders, R&D facilitators, buyers of agricultural produce and marketing strategists, etc. These rosy accounts overlook several adverse outcomes and processes associated with the ascendency of GAVNs including loss of biodiversity, accelerated land alienation, concentration and control of resources, disappearing livelihoods, weakening of food security etc. in large parts of the developing world. In tandem with, the ascendency of neo-liberal macroeconomic policies, the growing power of oligopolistic corporations has created huge distress in several countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Extreme manifestations of what is akin to agrarian crisis in some countries include, for instance, suicides by farmers in India.  

Conceptually, in the GAVNs, as in any GVN, core dimensions of the embedded relationship among the different actors hinge around business/work/labour relations and distributional issues. Although, juridically, different actors in value networks appear to be independent of each other, but in reality are entangled in highly unequal power relations. Whether it is economic transactions relating to inputs or outputs, it is the lead firms, which call the shots, and farmers, peasants and agricultural labourers are at the receiving end. Analysts often distinguish between vertical and horizontal relationship in these value networks: the vertical relationships generally denote the hierarchy of actors, essentially to capture the underlying power relations, e.g. from the lead firms to the final producers such as farmers, peasants and agricultural labourers. The horizontal relationship, as the term denotes, is essentially about relationship between those who are on a similar footing. These vertical and horizontal relationships in the GAVNs are critical in influencing distributional outcomes as well as the conditions of workers, including their employment and wages, and the ecological challenges which they face. The world of work for the majority of such producers consists of fragile and vulnerable conditions and overwhelming majority of them make a living through a collection of diverse economic activities, spanning agricultural and extractive activities, across rural and urban areas and international boundaries. One may, justifiably, quibble over fine-tuning of the relevant concepts, but it would be hardly off the mark to consider this large and heterogeneous segment as being co-terminus with Marx’s Relative Surplus Population (RSP).

Given the scenario briefly sketched above, the Summer School 2018 will engage with the relevant questions and issues, focusing on the world of labour with respect to GAVNs, corporate and contract farming, and the parallel extractive activities. Potential participants in the forthcoming Summer School are encouraged to examine the different dimensions of the structural/systemic issues of GAVNs in countries of the global south. Gender dimensions associated with all the relevant themes should be kept in sharp focus. The persistent gender segmentation of productive and reproductive work in the agrarian political economy and gender inequalities in access to and control of resources have meant that farmers, peasants and agricultural labourers do not experience GAVNs in gender neutral ways, particularly in a context of extreme social differentiation. Therefore, the gendered experiences of actors within GAVNs have to be accounted for both as a cross-cutting theme and in its own right. We therefore encourage contributions, which address the gender dimensions of all the proposed thematic areas.

As already indicated, topics could include conceptual and empirical discussions of the following for different countries and regions:


  1. Formation and growing power of oligopolies in GAVNs;
  2. Historical antecedents of colonial plantations and post-colonial state farms
  3. The bargaining power of different actors in GAVNs;
  4. The dialectics of the quantitative and qualitative attributes underlying corporate and contract farming, nationally and globally;
  5. Growing Corporate power on output and input markets and their implications for labour/livelihoods;
  6. Gender and social differentiation in GAVNs;
  7. Extractive industries and the role of small- and large-scale mining;  
  8. Implications for food security;
  9. Implications for ecology;
  10. Emerging conditions of work and workers;
  11. Alternatives and resistances to corporate agriculture.


In sum, all these issues, to be deliberated in the proposed Summer School would seek to reflect on some of the major challenges and key concerns associated with contemporary capitalism, the development of GAVNs and other value networks, and the question of labour with a focus on the Global South. As always, it will bring together leading as well as young scholars from diverse disciplines as well as activists, from Africa, Latin America, and Asia in order to engage with the complexities of the labour process at the current juncture.

Interested scholars are invited to submit paper proposals or abstracts (not more than 300 words) no later than 30 June 2017. Authors of selected papers will be requested to develop their full papers by 30 September 2017 and will be invited to participate at the 2018 Summer School in Harare (funds permitting). Some of the articles may also be selected for publication in the Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy and normal peer review process will apply.

Paper proposals should be submitted to Walter Chambati: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copied to Professor Praveen Jha: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  


                        Position Announcement: Coordinator

 Date of announcement: 16 May 2017: Application Deadline: 30 May 2017 

 The Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) invites applications to fill in

 the post of Coordinator that has arisen within its Secretariat.

 About ZiLAN

ZiLAN was established in 2012. The Membership of the Network comprises organisations involved in research and policy analysis; NGOs working with farmers; farmers’ representative organisations; women and youth in agriculture, interest groups, and land reform and agriculture activists. The members have had informal ties since 2006. In coming together, the members sought to strengthen their respective capacities, complement each other and amplify their collective voices to influence land and agrarian policies and programmes in Zimbabwe.

 The members of the Network are driven by a shared concern about equity, and social justice in access to land, its utilization and the sharing of benefits arising from productive activity. The network is of value for a variety of reasons which include: the utilitarian (access to information, services, skills, critical mass for advocacy), ideological (solidarity with smallholder farmers and farm workers, unified voice for civil society organisations) and pragmatic (visibility of issues; sharing experiences; common lobby platform; among others). In addition to its external focus, a large percentage of the Network’s activity is devoted to learning about each other’s skills, sharing knowledge, coaching each other and developing innovation in products and strategies.

 Responsibilities and expectations

 Under the overall authority of the ZiLAN Steering Committee and supervision of the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS), the Coordinator will be expected to provide overall leadership and management of the ZiLAN.

 1)      Core Responsibilities-.


  • Preparation and implementation of long term strategies;
  • Liaising with donor agencies, relevant government departments, development partners and membership of ZiLAN;
  • Chief Operating Officer of ZiLAN responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Trust and implementation of such policies as may be adopted by the Steering Committee;
  • Organise network activities which include research, training and policy dialogue activities and compile minutes of the same;
  • Organising and preparing agenda for Steering Committee Meetings and to serve as its Secretary;
  • Ensure that ZiLAN operates in compliance with Deed of Trust regulations and law relating to governance of Trusts.
  • Preparation of Donor reports and Annual reports for ZiLAN;
  • Development and implementation of fundraising plans and mobilizing resources for ZiLAN projects;
  • Develop quarterly newsletter and manage social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook etc) for ZiLAN;
  • Writing research reports;
  • Serve as official spokesperson for ZiLAN;
  • Develop and maintain the website of ZiLAN.

 2)      Academic/ Technical Competencies/Qualifications:

 Applicants must:


  • Possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences;
  • Have at least three years working experience with civil society in the land and agrarian sector in Zimbabwe;
  • Be experienced in fundraising, resource management and preparation of donor reports.


 3)      Other Relevant Skills


  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Excellent computer experience in using Microsoft office applications;
  • Good planning and organisational skills;
  • Efficient and well organised personality, and;
  • Demonstrate ability to work to tight deadlines;
  • Use of social media (Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp) for development work.

 4)       Application Procedure

 The candidate should provide the following documents.

 i. A letter of application responding to the core responsibilities;

 ii. A detailed Curriculum Vitae;

 iii. Certified copies of certificates of all indicated qualifications; and

 iv. Three reference letters.

 The application should be submitted not later than 30th May 2017 via email to:

  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and be copied to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 All applications will be treated with utmost confidentiality. Only shortlisted

 Candidates will be contacted. Remuneration for the post will be disclosed to the shortlisted candidates.

 The ZiLAN Trust reserves the right not to appoint any of the applicants for the post.








 1.1 Introduction

 The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS), in collaboration with the Agrarian South Network invites applications from post-graduate students and social movements’ activists from the Global South to participate in the 2017 First Edition of the Agrarian Studies Training Institute (ASTI).

The SMAIAS and the ASN have since 2009 been conducting one week long annual Agrarian Summer Schools which attract over 50 scholars and social movements from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The purpose of the Summer School has been to leverage South-South and African-wide agrarian research and training capacities, promote relevant knowledge and collaborative scholarship in policy analyses around the question of agrarian transformation in Africa. There has however been a realisation that there is need to invest in building the capacities of the next generation of scholars, intellectuals and activists to envision and propose effective agrarian reforms and rural development strategies, while advocating for greater public accountability in policy formulation and fiscal resource allocation processes. The ASTI intends to offer a 3 weeks, intensive inter-disciplinary course in agrarian studies, with faculty members and students from universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean to address such needs.

The ASTI will be preceded by an academic workshop titled: “Sustainable Development Goals and Agrarian Transformations in the Global South: Trends and Opportunities” which will be co-organized by SMAIAS and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), therefore, successful candidates will attend both trainings as part of the month long programme.

 Both the workshop and the ASTI will offer a unique opportunity for international academic exchange of a high scholarly standard for both faculty and students. They will generate new knowledge based on shared experiences among researchers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and promote the building of networking capacity among young scholars and activists in the Global South.

 1.2 Course Content

 The institute is offering a course entitled “Agrarian Transformations in the Global South”.The aim of the course is to provide an intensive study of the agrarian question, including its origins, historical trajectories, and related policy interventions, especially land reform. It offers a historical and comparative perspective whose purpose is to provide students with the basic conceptual tools and historical knowledge to conduct research and/or engage in advocacy and policy-making.

 The seven modules to be covered by the course are:


I. Sustainable Development Goals and Agrarian Transformation (Academic workshop);


II. Theoretical Perspectives on the Agrarian Transformations;


III. Land and Agrarian Relations: Comparing National Contexts and Policies;


IV. Social Institutions, Patriarchy and Agrarian Relations;


V. Agri-business, Global Supply Chains and Food Security;


VI. Social Movements and Collective Actions in the Contemporary Agrarian Transformations;


VII. Research Methods and Techniques.

 1.3 Objectives of the Course

 The course aims to introduce students to the trends and processes of agrarian transformations under contemporary capitalism. As is well known, there has been a new phase of the scramble for land and other natural resources in the global south under the contemporary phase of corporate capitalism. The processes unleashed by this phenomenon have had a devastating impact on the lives of the working poor and also led to a new wave of resistance. Since this process is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional in its character, it is only natural that the study of the political economy of contemporary agrarian transformations is also interdisciplinary. This month long interdisciplinary course is aimed at training students in themes and methods of agrarian research in the present times.

 1.4 Dates and venue of the Institute

 The entire programme which includes both the Academic Workshop and the Institute will last for 1 month and will take place in Harare from the 23rd of October until 17th November 2017.



Young scholars resident in countries from the Global South pursuing Doctoral degrees or recently completed a Masters degree and planning to enroll for a PhD are strongly encouraged to apply. Social movement activists who possess a Masters qualification and are engaged in agrarian policy lobby and advocacy are also encouraged to apply. Preference will however be given to activists who are planning to enroll for a PhD degree. Although students will be asked to write an essay in the language of their understanding (i.e. English, French and Portuguese) they are expected to have a working knowledge of English.




a) A one-page letter of motivation indicating their interest to participate at the Institute and detail how they will benefit from the engagements.


b) A Curriculum Vitae complete with names of professional and personal referees (supervisors included) of the prospective participants, discipline being worked on, and summary of ongoing research activities.


c) A certified copy of the highest university degree obtained by the applicant.


d) A certified copy of valid passport (at least six months before the commencement of the course).


e) A letter from the applicant’s institution supporting his/her candidature.


f) A sample of a paper, article or thesis chapter authored by the applicant.




Successful candidates will be fully funded by SMAIAS, including a return air ticket from home country and food and accommodation costs during their stay in Harare.




Applications should be sent via email and addressed to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Enquiries about the course should also be forwarded to the same addresses. The deadline for the receipt of applications is 30 June 2017. Successful candidates will be notified by 15 July 2017.


For more information about SMAIAS, please visit our website: www.aiastrust.org



The Ninth edition of the Agrarian Summer School will take in Harare, Zimbabwe, from the 16th to the 20th, January 2017.The event to run under the theme “Labour Questions in the Contemporary Global South” will bring together senior, junior scholars and activists from social movements from Africa, Asia and  Latin America . The Summer School will seek to reflect and deepen knowledge on some of the major challenges and key concerns of the Labour Questions under contemporary capitalism from an interdisciplinary perspective.

For updates on the proceedings, follow us on the following twitter handle: @AIAS_trust



Announcement of Launch of Regional Research on Land Tenure and Contract Farming- 1 September 2016

Against a background of resurgent land grabs, penetration of capital in the rural landscape and the expulsion of small producers from their pieces of land in most African countries, the Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies (SMAIAS) working in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) announces the commencement of comprehensive studies on land rights and contract farming in Southern Africa.  The study on contract farming will examine the power relations embedded in the model, its impact on the livelihoods of small producers while the land rights study is aimed at understanding the tenuous nature of land rights amongst different social groups. The studies build on two baseline surveys and various other country studies conducted by the SMAIAS since its inception in 2003.


The studies which are to be conducted in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe are aimed at building the capacities of small producers and social movements on aspects related to land rights and contract farming to ensure that small producers derive maximum benefits from their agricultural activities and are protected on their land. The research outcome will be used to lobby and advocate for sound land tenure policies which guarantee the rights of small producers to their land as well as to develop policy guidelines on contract farming in the region. 


For more information, please get in touch with:

Walter Chambati                    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    or

Freedom Mazwi                     Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






 Position Announcement: Executive Director


Date of announcement: 3 June 2016

Application Deadline: 31 August  2016

The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies(SMAIAS) invites applications to fill the post of the Executive Director within its Secretariat.


 Previously known as the African Institute for Agrarian Studies(AIAS), it was renamed to SMAIAS in 2016 by the Board of Trustees in honour of its late Founder and Executive Director, Professor Sam Moyo. Based in Harare, the SMAIAS has been in operation for over thirteen years, established and registered as an independent Trust in 2002. The SMAIAS aims to enhance Africa’s agrarian transformation by promoting informed participation towards effective land and agrarian policies and reform, by means of Pan-African and South-South partnerships, interdisciplinary research initiatives, policy dialogues, training, and information dissemination. SMAIAS interacts with various organizations and countries to assist them in developing capacity for policy formulation and research. It also facilitates policy dialogue among governments, academics, civil society and others on land and agrarian developments, especially on the land rights of marginalized social groups.

Responsibilities and expectations

Under the overall authority of the Board of Trustees and the direct supervision of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director will be expected to provide intellectual, administrative and strategic leadership to the secretariat of the SMAIAS.

 1) Core responsibilities:

  •  Provide overall leadership and management of the SMAIAS;
  • Conduct research and contribute to the development of the SMAIAS intellectual tradition;
  • Prepare and implement long term strategies;
  • Liaise with donor agencies;
  • serve as Chief Operating Officer of SMAIAS responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Trust and implementation of such policies as may be adopted by the Board of Trustees;
  • Organize and prepare agenda for Board of Trustees Meetings and to serve on the Board of Trustees;
  • Ensure that SMAIAS operates in compliance with Deed of Trust regulations and law relating to governance of Trusts;
  • Represent SMAIAS in the initiatives of CODESRIA, the Agrarian South Network (ASN), and such similar networks as will further the mission of the Institute;
  • Coordinate the preparation of Donor and Annual Budgets for approval by the Board of Trustees and be responsible for proper and effective management of the financial resources of SMAIAS;
  • Develop and implement fundraising plans and mobilize resources for SMAIAS projects;
  • Serve as official spokesperson for SMAIAS, write all press releases, Director’s letters, brochures and related public materials; grants print and broadcast media interviews as required; develop video and audio documentary material for media distribution; represents SMAIAS at all educational, scientific and public functions and develop public relations policy for SMAIAS subject to approval of Board of Trustees;

 2) Academic/ Technical Competencies/Qualifications:

 Applicants must:

  •  Possess a PhD from a recognised institution of higher learning inany field(s) of the Social Sciences;
  • Have a long post-doctoral working experience (preferably 10 years but not less than 5 years) at senior managerial level in a similar independent research institution;
  • Have good knowledge of, and affinity with, the intellectual tradition of SMAIAS, CODESRIA, and the Agrarian South Network, and possess a demonstrable ability to mobilise and promote Pan-African and South-South scholarship;
  • Be experienced in fund-raising, resource management and the preparation of reports for donors;
  • Have a distinguished research and publication record on the Agrarian Question in Africa;
  • Be conversant about the debates on the Agrarian Question in the Global South and;
  • Be fluent in English;  a good working knowledge of  French and Portuguese would be an added advantage.

 3) Other relevant skills:

  •  Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Good knowledge of the workings of international independent research institutions;
  • Capacity to work under pressure and in a multicultural environment;
  • Excellent computer experience in using Microsoft office applications;
  • Good planning and organisational skills;
  • Efficient and well organised personality, and;
  • Demonstrate ability to work to tight deadlines.

 4) Remuneration 

  •  A competitive remuneration package will be offered, in accordance with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. This will be disclosed to shortlisted candidates.

  5) Location of post

  •  This post will be based at the SMAIAS secretariat office in Harare. Candidates should be prepared to live in Harare.

 6) Application procedure

 The candidate should provide the following documents;

 i. A letter of application;

 ii. A detailed curriculum vitae;

 iii. Certified copies of certificates of all indicated qualifications, and

 iv. Three reference letters;

 v. Three recent peer reviewed journal articles.

 vi. Certified copy of passport.

 Other supporting documents may also be required prior to recruitment.

 The application should be submitted not later than  31 August 2016 via post to:

 The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees

 The Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies

 19 Bodle Avenue, Eastlea

Harare, Zimbabwe


Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the subject header: Executive Director

All applications will be treated in utmost confidence. However, only shortlisted candidates shall be contacted.

The SMAIAS Trust reserves the right not to appoint any of the applicants for the post.

Only African citizens will be considered for this post.



                   Background Note and Call for Papers for Summer School-2017


Major Theme: ‘Labour Questions’ in the Contemporary Global South


 One of the major messages emerging from a careful reading of the longue duree of world capitalism is that the world of work, labour processes and labour rights differ fundamentally between the Global North and the Global South and these differences are organically connected with, inter alia, the nature and particularities inherent in accumulation and labour absorption regimes, which were profoundly shaped by the ‘uneven and combined’ development of capitalism on the global scale, driven in large measure by colonialism and imperialism. Hence, at a high level of generality, the political economy discourses often distinguish between the ‘core’ and the ‘periphery’ in the global economy, which are fundamentally enmeshed with each other.

 Countries in the Global South, in the aftermath of Independence from colonial, semi-colonial conditions, had managed to create varying degrees of autonomy and policy space for economic transformation. As is well documented, the strategy of State-led economic transformation, often hinging on public sector-driven industrialization resulted, in many cases, in growth outcomes, which had been unprecedented and quite respectable with reference to any appropriate benchmark. The more remarkable among these are the well-known “East Asian miracle cases”, where in a few countries the emphasis was on ‘export-oriented’ industrialization and in some other on ‘import-substituting’ industrialization, albeit with significant export optimism. In case of several other countries, such as India, where dirigisme unfolded with the degree of seriousness, accelerated capital accumulation laid the foundation for a well-diversified industrial structure within a reasonably short period. Even several countries in Africa were able to reap significant benefits with respect to some of the key concerns and indicators of the economic transformation narratives. Alternatives to dominant developmental strategies were visualised through adaption of socialist perspectives to countries emerging out of the shadows of imperialist domination. Experiments with African or Arab socialism, though not always successful, had implications for both labour rights and the reorganisation of the production and labour process.

 However, it is also important to note that even in cases of successful economic transformation with respect to industrialization and overall structural changes in the GDP, the generation of productive employment opportunities and significant shifts in occupational structure remained major challenges for most of these countries, even during the dirigiste era. As is well-known, in most developed countries in the capitalist world, the process of economic transformation was associated with the share of agriculture in total economic output and labour force becoming quite small. In fact, the early development literature hypothesized this as the final destiny for all countries. However, the experience of the much of the Global South shows, in spite of respectable output growth during the period of planned economic development (during the second half of the 20th century), vast masses of population continue to derive their livelihood from the agricultural sector.  Furthermore, as is well-known, the overall accumulation patterns in general and the dynamics of labour in particular, are strongly influenced and structured by the issues of gender, ethnicity, caste, race etc. Although there is substantial work on these issues, the need for more nuanced research can’t be overstated.


 The contemporary global labour scenario clearly shows that the world of work for the majority consists of fragile and vulnerable conditions. The changes in the strategies of accumulation and exploitation in the neo-liberal era since the early 1970s, particularly with the ascendancy of the so-called Global Value Chains (GVCs)/ Global Commodity Chains (GCCs)/ Global Production Networks (GPNs), corporate and contract out-grower schemes etc. have only made matters worse for the labouring masses. The proportion of regular wage and salaried employees is a minority globally, its spread is quite uneven across sub-regions (in conformity with the combined and uneven development of global capitalism), and this segment of the formal/regular is coming under pressure in the recent years. The majority of workers in peripheral economies fall in the category of the vulnerably employed, which is a collection of very diverse economic activities, and these workers have little prospect of joining the ranks of regular wage workers. One may, justifiably, quibble over fine-tuning of the relevant concepts, but it would be hardly off the mark to consider this large and heterogeneous segment as being co-terminus to Marx’s Relative Surplus Population (RSP).

The Summer School 2017 will engage with the historical, structural and systemic changes within capitalism that produces and perpetuates this relative surplus population. These changes may be located in the multiple processes arising out of changes in technology and organisation of production, on the one hand, and processes of social and economic discrimination, on the other hand. The sociological composition of this surplus population also reflects these two processes because the RSP is largely composed of the most vulnerable social groups in the political economy both in terms of ethnicity and gender. Thus the organisation and the resistance of these groups to the processes of accumulation and their fight for social protection is an important element to be deliberated in the forthcoming summer school.

 The trajectories of capitalist transformation and their implications for labour-processes and labouring people across time and space have generated a vast and highly contentious literature. The relevant issues and contours of these changes cover a large spectrum and are indeed complex, to say the least. Hence, the proposed Summer School would seek to reflect on some of the major challenges and key concerns associated with contemporary capitalism with a focus on the Global South. It will bring together leading as well as young scholars from diverse disciplines and activists, from Latin America, Africa and Asia in order to understand such complex dimensions of the changes in the labour process from an interdisciplinary perspective.



The core objective of the summer school would be to think through the major structural/systemic issues with respect to the world of work, labour and labour rights in the Global South and discuss alternatives and resistance to neo-liberalism. In particular the Summer School would engage with some of the major questions relating to:


  1. The relevant challenges and policy issues central to structural transformation with sustainable employment creation;
  2. Spatial and temporal strategies of accumulation and exploitation;
  3. Issues of gender, ethnicity, caste, race etc. in the dynamics of labour;
  4. Patterns of resistance and challenges for political/social mobilization and movements;
  5. The issues that need in-depth analysis and research for deepening of the trajectories of equitable and inclusive development, social protection etc.


Articles will be subject to peer review and those selected for publication in Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy and author would be invited (fund permitting) to the Summer School 2017.  The deadline for full papers is 1 August 2016, so that the editorial team would get enough time for review and editing before presentations of the papers at the Summer School.


Papers should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copied to Professor Praveen Jha: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Walter Chambati: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




REGIONAL EXCHANGE VISIT for social movements (10-12 December 2015)

Land reform, one of the most bitter legacies of colonial and apartheid rule has been high on the agenda of liberation movements. However, 20 years after democracy in South Africa, only 8% of land has been transferred. Zimbabwe being a settler state just like South Africa, presents a reminder of how critical the land reforms issue continues to be as the consequences of its process continue to be a challenge in the region. However, it is important to understand the actual status, the process, and the benefits the Zimbabwean land reform process have had to ordinary Zimbabweans with regards to addressing inequality.

Mozambique, on the other hand, has a socialist system that does not allow for private ownership of land. Land is controlled by 99 year leases which guarantee tenure security for both small scale farmers and large scale investors. The right to land is rooted within both legal and customary practise. In the absence of legality, customary practice is used and vice versa. Its policy is designed to encourage the development of negotiated partnerships between customary rights holders and the private sector, allowing communities to directly benefit from the use by third parties of customarily occupied land. What lessons can be learnt from Mozambique in this scenario when it comes to land tenure, ownership and production including access to market for small scale farmers in the region.

Some key questions that this learning exchange seeks to explore include but are not limited to the following; what can South Africans especially those needing land learn from Zimbabwe? Looking at land reform beneficiaries compare to communal farmers in Zimbabwe what are some of the lessons in reducing poverty and inequality? What possible support mechanisms could be in place to strengthen the land reform process and ensure equality and poverty alleviation?

NPA partners and the groups they work with. NPA partners TCOE, Abahlali Basemjondolo and SCLC in South Africa, UNAC and ORAM from Mozambique and members of ZiLAN in Zimbabwe.

Foster partnership between small scale farmers struggling to access land and markets by promoting intra-regional dialogue on organising for land access and control. Empower small scale farmers through peer-to-peer learning

1) Regional dialogue on organising for access and better control of land with case stories from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa
2) Learning field visit to farms that have been transferred through land reform in Zimbabwe (opportunities and challenges)

3) Reflection and planning of way forward

The dates for this exchange is 10th - 12th of December 2015 and will involve one day of dialogue and sharing of experiences from the three countries, one day field visit and one day of reflection.




Call for submissions and Guidelines for the sessions on

Progressive Social Forces, Social Movements and Collective Actions in the Contemporary Agrarian Transformations in the South

 A decade ago Moyo and Yeros (2005) edited a volume mapping the most important progressive social movements  in the struggle for land and agrarian reforms in the South,. It was a moment when a new wave of social unrest hit rural areas, one that dialectically challenged the more restricted visions on the prospects of the agrarian question.

 The book proposed an analytical framework based on the following principles: grassroots support, leadership, tactics, ideology and cosmopolitanism. Besides the fact that land is widely recognised as a source of conflict in the global south, few groups were able to have the impact of the Zapatistas, the MST or war veterans in Zimbabwe. In most of the cases described by Moyo and Yeros and observed in previous AGS Summer Schools, the collective actions around contemporary land and agrarian questions tend not to be restricted to large demonstrations, land occupations or to a single peasant path or behaviour.

In a context of land concentration, land grabs, farm conversions, large-scale developmental projects, financialization of the agricultural sector and urban-rural linkages we have to be able to understand and interrogate: a) the actions that led some groups to return to the land question and fight for agrarian reforms; b) the tendencies of possible repeseantizations or peasant paths; c) the role of land and agrarian reforms in national question; d) social forces that have resisted any of the process described above by remaining on land they occupy under adverse circumstances; e) groups that advocate enhanced rights that are related but not necessarily unique to land and agrarian reforms such as gender, labour, race and indigenous claims.

 The issue of scale also becomes relevant. While it is important to continuously map the global movements and alliances that give a cosmopolitan face to land struggles, it is also critical to recognise local initiatives that have successfully weathered the developments of capitalism. In such circumstances, it is possible to observe innovative knowledge and forms of politicizing land conflicts that are not taken into account by the established conceptual frameworks.

Methodologically speaking, it is also urgent to avoid imposing certain models of collective action as a norm. The obvious achievements of certain movements should not prevent other possibilities from being explored or be used to argue against other dissonant forms of political action. Concepts like autonomy, grassroots, identity, organization, co-optation and transitions should be carefully applied and only when necessary and methodologically relevant to avoid unfair comparisons.

For the 2016 Edition of the Agrarian South Summer School, we hope to receive contributions for the upcoming volume on how to confront these challenges, in order to begin new trends in the field of rural social movements. The goal is to move from the traditional organisational approaches to action. In other words, at this moment we seek to privilege the role of agency in redefining and politicizing contemporary agrarian questions.

Reinforcing this goal, the main criterion for defining progressive social forces is through their own actions. When thinking about a movement, we should be able to identify a collective action that has impacted, challenged or influenced the process of agrarian transformations locally, nationally or internationally. According to this definition, land occupations, protests, lobbying and other strategies adopted in the different countries can be considered, examining distinct actors in a wide range of situations whose lives have been affected by the land and agrarian questions.

After defining the actions, we can proceed to establish the nature of groups (grassroots support). Who are they? Can we link the actions with a specific class, gender, community etc.? Are they formal (movements, unions, NGOs or a mixture? Do they have a recognised structure?) or informal collectives (affected groups, gatherings, etc.)? Are the structures (formal or informal) established to address that specific claim or did they already exist (war veterans, church groups, burial societies etc.)? Are the actions sporadic (short-term) or permanent? What land are struggling to keep or reclaim (state land, communal land, private land, agricultural land, ancestors’ land, the land of traditional authorities, environmentally protected land, mining land, etc.)?

Taking into account that it is not easy to answer such questions and that the established categories often are blurred in the attempt, we look forward to presentations from scholars and activists that can address the practical and theoretical dimensions of these issues. The aim is to bring together a variety of social forces that have been able to challenge and influence processes of land and agrarian reforms and transformations in the South such as (though not exclusively):

  • The Landless
  • Peasants
  • Pastoralists
  • Indigenous groups
  • Labour movements
  • Women’s movements
  • Environmental movements
  • Movements and tendencies not yet mapped or described
  • Rural-urban dimension of land struggles
  • Race-based land claims
  • Food sovereignty and agro-ecology campaigns
  • International coalitions and solidarities (Cloc, La Via Campesina and others )
  • NGO/Grassroots initiatives

Insisting on the political relevance and consequences of concepts, methods, scales and agencies we seek to critically engage with the current literature on movements, rural resistance, peasant revolts and social unrest. We need to develop and produce (not only reflect) a new and open framework where the struggles for land in any form and on any scale could be used to challenge the established ways of understanding the agrarian question in and from the South.

For more information about the venue, participation, accommodation and other details please take a look at Call for Participation attached.

Contacts, questions and submissions:

Marcelo Rosa

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Walter Chambati

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Call for participation 

Agrarian South Summer School – 2016 

Progressive Social forces, Gender and the Agrarian Questions

Agrarian South Network and Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy (www.ags.sagepub.com) hosted by the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS).

January 18 to 22, 2016.

Harare , Zimbabwe

How does it work?
The summer school is a five days full time plenary event where participants are encouraged to present, listen and debate about their struggles, work, research and advocacy connected to the present processes of rural and agrarian transformations in South.

The aim of the school is to bring together the diverse experiences of movements, NGO’s, policy makers and academics in order to strengthen our capacities of understanding the current conjuncture.

How to participate?
In 2016 AGS Summer School reaches the 8th Edition aiming to improve the participation of academics, activists and policy makers from the all over the word by anticipating the call for submissions and application in order to allow potential participants to better plan their agendas and contributions.

As the title indicates the 2016 edition addresses two major issues: Progressive Social Forces and their roles in the local, regional, continental and global agrarian questions; and Gender Relations in the Changing Agrarian Political Economies in the South. The participants elected both themes during the 2015 edition.

There are three major forms of participation: presenting papers, reporting intervention and struggles, and as a participant with no presentation.

The key issues are designed to occupy three of the four indoor days of the Programme (one of the days is usually dedicated to a field trip). The remaining day will be open, as a General Issues session, for themes and presenters whose work do not fit into the themes to present their reflections on critical and pressing debates on contemporary rural, land and agrarian issues.

As the Gender Relation theme will be dedicated to debate a Special Issue of the Agrarian South Journal (ags.sagepub.com) to which the call for submission is already closed, we would be glad to receive proposals for the Progressive Rural Social Forces (a detailed call for papers is attached) and for the General Issues sessions.

How to present?

To present a paper you must submit a title and a short abstract (10 lines), suggesting in which session should your work be allocated (Progressive Rural Social Forces or General Issues).

To present reports of policies, interventions and struggles you only need to provide a title that describes the general content of the presentation.

Paper proposals – 01/october/2015 

Reports – 01/October/2015 

All prospective participants regardless of being presenters or not must confirm their participation by 01/November/2015. 


The lingua franca of the school is English but we strongly encourage the engagement of non English-speaking participants. As most of us from the South don’t have the English as our mother language, we have been able to provide a friendly environment where presentations in Spanish, French and Portuguese can be easily translated by another participant.

Financial support:
The AGS Network encourages potential participants to raise their own funds. In order to promote generational, demographical and gender diversity the organisation will look for funds (always limited) to support applicants with no funding options. 

Contacts, questions and submissions:

Marcelo Rosa
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Walter Chambati
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.