SLU news

The political ecology of crops

Published: 28 March 2022
 The woman and the nearby village collect tea on a tea plantation in the morning. Photo.

A recently published special issue of the journal Geoforum explores the role of crops in contemporary and historical political and economic struggles.

In a recently published special issue in the journal Geoforum, Klara Fischer, (SLU), Jostein Jakobsen (Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo) and Ola Westengen (Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences), have drawn together a group of researchers to explore the role of crops in contemporary and historical political and economic struggles.

Klara, Jostein and Ola have common interests in political ecology research on agriculture and have been inspired by in the increasing attention in the social sciences in recent years on non-human actors, to place emphasis on the role of plants in the political economy of agrarian change. This time, it was in particular the renowned agrarian studies scholar James C. Scott’s book Against the Grain that inspired them to collaborate in organizing a session at the biannual POLLEN conference 2020 hosted by Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Sussex. The session attracted significant interest and as a result they invited authors to contribute to the special issue.

The papers in the special issue introduce us to the role of crops in a variety of agricultural, political and historical contexts, including rice, cotton, tea and onion in India, tea in Kenya, cassava in Brazil, genetically modified soy and maize in Argentina and South Africa, and the role of hops in the geopolitics of beer brewing. The special issue also contains a commentary by James C. Scott.

You can find the whole special issue here: