“International History of Agrarian and Rural Development Policies and Doctrines Since 1950” (Workshop, Florence, Italy, November 10-11, 2015)

Readers of the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Global History Forum may recall our interview with historian Corinna Unger this past autumn – then based at the Jacobs University in Bremen, but now a Professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. For those interested in Unger’s research agenda on the global history development, here’s a recent call for papers for a workshop – organized by Unger in collaboration with her Munich-based colleague Marc Frey – in the Tuscan foothills that should interest them. “The international history of development policies and practices,” begins the call,

has largely been written as a history of planning and implementation and, more often than not, as a history of the failure of ambitious projects of modernization. A lack of representation and visibility on the part of rural populations, the dominance of urban groups and elites, the perspective on institutions and organizations and, last but not least, the theoretical and practical paradigm of development as industrialization have led, until today, to a marginalization of rural areas in discourses and practices of development and its history. However, until very recently the majority of the world population lived in rural areas and from agriculture. Continuing poverty and only limited access to basic human rights and needs are a widespread phenomenon of rural areas. With a view to these observations we propose to investigate the questions which doctrines of development for rural areas and agrarian communities existed, how they were implemented, and which experiences agrarian groups and societies made with regard to the doctrines and practices of agricultural and rural development.

Specific questions we would like to address at the workshop are the following: How, why and under which conditions did rural and agricultural development policies change or not change during the second half of the twentieth century in different parts of the world? Which political, economic, and cultural arguments and interests shaped those policies, and in which ways did they mirror local, regional, national, or international debates? How did rural populations react to the respective programs and approaches, and how did their behavior in turn influence the formulation of new strategies? By raising these questions, the proposed workshop seeks to arrive at a more nuanced and complex understanding of the international history of development policies in the twentieth century.

The workshop is being organized as part of a research project on the international history of agrarian development policies and doctrines since 1950 based at Jacobs University Bremen and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Further information on the project can be found at http://ruraldevelopment.user.jacobs-university.de/

Interested in the conference? Here’s how to apply:

We welcome proposals which address questions raised above. Interested scholars should send a short proposal (400 words) and a current CV to Corinna R. Unger (European University Institute, corinna.unger@eui.eu) and Marc Frey (Bundeswehr University Munich, marc.frey@unibw.de). The deadline for the submission of proposals is May 15, 2016.

Applicants are reminded that limited funding for travel and accommodation may be available. Do note, however, that contributors will be expected to arrive in Florence on Wednesday, November 9.

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