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Keynote Plenaries

Plenary Panel 1

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm
Location: Ryerson Theatre

50 Years of Debate on Peasantries 1966-2016

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of two landmark books which defined the poles of debate in agrarian studies. Eric Wolf’s Peasants was a little book with a big impact, defining peasants not by mentalities but by their relationships with non-peasants as classes within modern national economies. The English translation of V.I. Chayanov’s Theory of Peasant Economy (orig. 1925) made his ideas accessible to Anglophone readers, defining peasant farming as a specific form of economy with a logic different both from capitalist class relations and from neo-classical agricultural economists’ models. The debate between these two traditions, and their implications for agrarian policies and agrarian movements, continues more or less along the same lines, for instance in Henry Bernstein’s Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change (2010) and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg's Peasants and the Art of Farming: a Chayanovian Manifesto (2014). This panel considers what has stayed the same and what has changed in fifty years of agrarian thought and agrarian politics.

Chairs: Harriet Friedmann, University of Toronto; Ben White, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, the Netherlands

Henry Bernstein

Jan Douwe Van
Der Ploeg

Teodor Shanin

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Adjunct Professor, College of Humanities and Development, China Agricultural University, Beijing Wageningen University President, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences

Harriet Friedman

Ben White

University of Toronto International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)  

Plenary Panel 2

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Time: 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Location: Ryerson Theatre

Since NAFTA: Expectations Then, Impacts Since, Insights Going Forward

This panel will bring together scholars and practitioner/activists, to provide a long view and assessment on the “NAFTA experiment,” what we expected and what we’ve learned about its implications for rural people and places in North America—as well as insights in the context of current global trade debates and struggles. Speakers will presenting integrative views of Mexican, American and Canadian expectations, experiences, and outcomes—as well as prospective views, updates, politics on TTIP, TTP, rural insights, and organizing.

Chair: Douglas H. Constance, Sam Houston State University

Gerardo Otero

Jennifer Clapp

Hugh Campell

School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University University of Waterloo University of Otago

Keynote Speaker

Date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Location: Ryerson Theatre


Envisioning Real Utopias: Possibilities for Rural Change

For some 20 years Professor Erik Olin Wright and his colleagues have been documenting, exploring and advancing theories and practices of “real utopias.” The “Real Utopias” project has entailed developing a sociology that joins attention not only to the actual, but also to the possible, in a context of urgent critique of social oppression, injustice, poverty and environmental degradation. Dr. Wright’s work has sought to develop theoretically and empirically sound arguments about emancipatory possibilities for alternatives to the dominant institutions that have generated problems of unintended consequences, self-destructive dynamics and difficult dilemmas of normative trade-offs—in short, the crises for equality, democracy and sustainability that are so urgent in the present era. Dr. Wright’s address at the 2016 World Congress of Rural Sociology will present his most recent thinking on the theory and practice of “real utopias” and consider connections to the evidence of both challenges and promising experiments in diverse rural contexts across the globe.



Mini Plenaries

Panel A

Date: Thursday, August 11, 2016
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Location: ENG 103

Linking Toronto with Region and Rural: Pathways, Politics and Prospects

Combining historical background, issues, politics, lessons and innovations arising from the resource and planning battles that have shaped Toronto's rural/urban relationship, this panel will ground and situate the conference theme within the host region. Panelists speak with first-hand knowledge from recent and on-going regional resource battles, including critical societal struggles over the control of resources, and the priorities that shape our farmland, water, and ecosystem policies and protections.

Chair: Gerda Wekerle, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Carl Cosack

Victor Doyle

Mary Delaney

Food and Water First; formerly Stop the Mega-Quarry   Manager (Planning Innovation), Provincial Planning Policy Branch, Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Chair, Land Over Landings

Michael Classens

Gerda R. Wekerle

Western University and Centre for Learning, Social Economy and Work, OISE Professor Emerita and Senior Scholar, York University  

Panel B

Date: Thursday, August 11, 2016
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Location: TRS 2166

World Regions: Key Rural Challenges and Transitions in the Neoliberal Era

Global environmental changes, shifting resource scarcities, deepening social inequalities, both innovation and crisis in urban centers, and new patterns of voluntary and involuntary migrations are among the conditions and dynamics now shaping the futures of rural places and people. Intensifying and intertwining forces of commodification, industrialization, neoliberalization and globalization over the last several decades have produced uneven and arguably illusory gains, given evidence of the increasingly precarious position of labor and livelihoods throughout the rural world and the widespread distribution of environmental harm and ecological degradation. Within these general patterns and trends, circumstances can vary greatly across rural contexts within and between continents. This Plenary session will ask IRSA's leading voices to explore the most pressing challenges that face rural populations, policy-makers and societies within their regions.

Chair: Surichai Wun'gaeo Chulalongkorn University

Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole

Masashi Tachikawa

Terry Marsden

University of Botswana
Ibaraki University Cardiff University

Vaughan Higgins

North America
JoAnn Jaffe

South America
Sergio Schneider

Sturt University University of Regina Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS/Brazil

Panel C

Date: Thursday, August 11, 2016
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Location: TRS 3176

The Rural-Urban Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities

Rural and urban places are highly interdependent – especially in a resource-dependent country like Canada. This is often overlooked as a result of distance, the complexity of our interdependence, settlement patterns, or competition for attention or resources. We overlook this interdependency at our peril, however, since doing so means working at cross-purposes and missing opportunities to the detriment of all.

Joint Panel by the Rural Development Institute and Rural Policy Learning Commons

Moderators: William Ashton and William Reimer, Brandon University, Canada

Panel Presenters

Joshua Barrett

Bill Reimer

Memorial University Brandon and Concordia Universities
Examining the Nature of Rural-Urban Interactions and Interdependencies in Canadian Regions

Chris Southcott

Lakehead University

Rural-Urban Relations in Canada's Territorial North

John Devlin

University of Guelph

The Rural-Urban Nexus: A Polanyian Reflection

Lars Hallstrom

University of Alberta – Augustana

Determinants of Community Capacity for Rural Communities: Exploring the Urban-Rural Interaction Effect

This panel will address two questions arising from rural-urban interdependence:

  • In what ways are rural and urban places interdependent? and
  • How can we develop more beneficial rural-urban relationships?

These two questions will be considered by panelists with experience in a wide variety of contexts.

  • Barrett and Reimer will identify four components of rural-urban interdependence, then discuss research regarding the sensitivity of rural leaders from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland to each of these components.
  • Southcott will summarize past and present trends in rural-urban relations in Canada’s Territorial North. His comparisons with Alaska and Greenland provide useful comparisons to highlight how those relations are linked to decolonization.
  • Devlin provides a challenge to those who would answer the second of the panel’s two questions with reference to self-regulating markets. Inspired by the work of Polanyi he reflects on what types of policy regimes will be necessary to help rural places respond to the looming urban crises of water, energy, and food.
  • Hallstrom makes use of provincial and national surveys to demonstrate the importance of rural-urban relations for the community capacity of mid-to-small-sized rural communities. He examines how insights from social capital, network, and innovation theory can improve our understanding of how rural and urban communities are inter-related. 

The panel is supported by the Rural Policy Learning Commons: a 7-year partnership project with over 90 participants ( Inquiries, contributors, and new participants are welcome.