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The panel examines processes of rural transformation and change and underlying patterns of land use, labour regimes, institutions and development narratives.
Almost a quarter of the way into the ‘urban century’, rural change remains an important driver of development outcomes globally. Shifts in the global countryside continue to determine the livelihoods and wellbeing of a significant portion of the world’s population. Access to rural land and water is under constant pressure from deepening environmental degradation and climate change-induced scarcity. Industrial agriculture and boom crops expand steadily into new settings with corporate and financial conglomates and local elites alike engaged in practices of resource ‘grabbing.’ Evolving crises of productivity and efficiency rejig the balance between wage, contract, and unfree labour. Efforts at smallholder integration unfold alongside more obviously exploitative development models, kicking off new regimes of accumulation from above and from below. Rural factions retain a power that betrays their shrinking size and social movements shift and proliferate. And national development objectives tangle, sometimes uneasily, with local priorities.
This panel considers these and other trends unfolding in the global countryside and which indeed underpin urbanization and peri-urban densification processes. What official narratives and projects drive contemporary rural transformation? What new forms of subjugation and violence might result? How is environmental change redistributing or reconfirming socioeconomic differentiation? And what are the implications for social justice?