Disrupting Territories
New Spaces of Agriculture and Social Reproduction Systems


Ort: Universität Leipzig, Orientalisches Institut, Schillerstraße 6
und Universitätsbibliothek Albertina, Beethovenstr. 6
Datum: 11. bis 12. Dezember 2008
Organisator: SFB 586

undefinedProgramme of the Colloquium

‘Leipzig Excursion’ on Thursday (11th December) morning at 9:00 am starting from Ibis Hotel.
We are planning a guided tour through Leipzig city and surroundings with a focus on the places and locations which represent the city’s transformation during the last decades.



11 December 2008
Institute of Oriental Studies, Schillerstr. 6, Room S 202

01:00 p.m.

Drink and Snack (Oval Office S 203)

Opening: Round-Table Discussion

02:00 p.m.

Jörg Gertel (Leipzig)
The Global Food Crises and Disrupting Territories

Short Interventions

1. GK (Leipzig)
Steffie Richter
Critical Junctures of Globalization: Disrupting Territories, Dividing Societies

Katja Lindner
Selectivity and Ethnic Competition Between Labour Migrants in the Agriculture of Southern Spain. The Case of Almería

2. SFB (Leipzig/Halle)
Ingo Breuer
Difference and Integration: Disrupting Territories

3. IAMO Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (Halle)
Stephan Brosig
Agricultural Markets, Marketing and World Agricultural Trade

4. IFL Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (Leipzig)
Ulrich Ermann (Leipzig/Eichstätt)
Geographies of Brands: De- and Re-Territorializations

03:30 p.m.


04:00 p.m.


William H. Friedland (Santa Cruz)
Critical Juncture in Globalized Agrifood: On the Brink of a Fundamental Transformation?

05:00 p.m.


07:00 p.m.



12 December 2008
Bibliotheca Albertina, Beethovenstr. 6, Conference Room

Invited Papers

08:30 a.m.

Morning Session

09:00 a.m.

Niels Fold (Copenhagen)
Smallholder Incorporation in Global Value Chains and Regional Trajectories (Ghana and Vietnam)

09:45 a.m.

Peter Lindner (Frankfurt)
Moving the Margins of Markets: Smallholders, NGOs and Global Agribusiness in Northern Ghana

10:30 a.m.

Selma Tozanli, Fatima el Haddad Gauthier (Montpellier)
Governance of the Global Value Chains and Coordination of Local Players: Who Benefits from Quality Upgrading in the Fresh Tomato Export Sector in Morocco and in Turkey?

11:15 a.m.


11:30 a.m.

Sarah Ruth Sippel (Leipzig)
No Entry for "Strangers"? The Community of Touzaikou and its Strategy Facing Intensive Export Production in Morocco

12:15 a.m.

Swanie Potot (Nice)
New Migrant Work Force in the French Extensive Agriculture

12:30 a.m.


Afternoon Session

02:00 p.m.

JoAnn Jaffe (Regina)
Fictive Commodities and the Embeddedness of Contemporary Agriculture: A Multi-Case Study

02:45 p.m.

Michael Roche (Massey)
Historical Legacies and Contemporary Challenges Facing Pastoralism in New Zealand with Specific Reference to the Meat Industry

03:30 p.m.


04:00 p.m.

Guma Kunda Komey (Khartoum)
Disrupting Social Construct in Nuba Mountains Region: An Account of the Sudanese State’s Disguised Development Interventions

04:45 p.m.

Ray Bush (Leeds)
Land, Territory & Dispossession in the Middle East: Reflections on Reform, Resistance and Social Reproduction in Rural Egypt

05:30 p.m.


08:00 p.m.




The University of Leipzig is running two research centres, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), that intersect in their interest in the analysis of the social construction of space and global territorial reconfigurations. The collaborative research centre Difference and Integration comprises a group of about 50 academics and examines the history, structure and dynamics of pastoralism from a multidisciplinary perspective. One of the main research axes is to analyse the perspectives of rangeland management, the construction of nomadic (indigenous) spaces, the outcome of tenure conflicts and the sustainability of rural livelihood systems (see: www.nomadsed.de). Critical Junctures of Globalization is a postgraduate programme of about 40 PhD-students and academics that investigate the processes of globalization in relation to its discontents. One central aim of the programme is to scrutinize the interrelations between territorial fragmentations, reconfigurations of social action and the construction of new spatial reference points.

Within this academic framework the colloquium will address one specific issue: the interrelations between changing agri-food systems and insecurities of social reproduction with regard to their territorial manifestations in a globalizing world market.

Today, two thirds of developing countries are net importers of food. Among the poorest countries their number is even higher. State policies, as well as speculation on the international food markets, have furthered this dependency. In the past two decades, the rush to liberalize agricultural markets in developing countries has left poorer producers widely lacking in government support. Measures previously available to governments for 'softening' the effects of price volatility have been banned or discouraged under existing trade and investment agreements. Deregulated trade has left large gaps in competition law and created an enormous market power for transnational agribusinesses.

The contemporary food crisis of 2008 reveals a conjunction of these processes: They are further compounded by the development of high oil prices, poor climatic conditions in major food producing areas, and the exposure of natural resources, particularly water and soil. The results are low stocks of staple foods and food insecurity. However, unprecedented levels of investment and speculation on commodity markets are making prices both much more volatile and much higher than real supply and demand warrant.

Households and families, often the units of social reproduction in developing countries, can be considered as existing in the centre of these developments. Due to their dependency on local markets and resources, they are directly exposed to food and environmental crisis, often without mechanisms of public transfer or security. Thus, international interests and private speculation are increasingly shaping local spaces of reproduction. At the same time, some actors apply mobile strategies in accessing resources; invest in interpersonal networks for information and support, thereby creating new spaces of interaction and protection.

Giving the fundamental restructuring of producer-consumer relations in agri-food complexes, and the need for human security in the context of deterritorialized interactions, the colloquium will centre upon the following research questions:

  • In how far does subsistence production vis-à-vis industrialized production and international commodity chains threaten or empower (place specific) social reproduction systems?
  • In how far does the implementation of private property rights and of new technologies create new mechanisms of exclusion or empower social reproduction systems?
  • What are the social costs, limits and consequences of trans-national agricultural labour migration?
  • How do related discontinuities, ruptures and social crises manifest themselves territorially, what are their key moments, and in how far is the body - conceptualized as a territory - the ultimate landscape of inscription?


Critical Juncture in Globalized Agrifood:
On the Brink of a Fundamental Transformation?

William H. Friedland
University of California, Santa Cruz

In our murky post-industrial world of continuing and rapid change, surprising numbers and strata of populations are manifesting sharply increased interest and concern about food. Food-related alternative agrifood movements (AAMs) have proliferated globally, some accepting the existing shape of things while others raise or express hostility to existing agrifood systems. In the aggregate, some analysts have contended that the AAMs constitute the social movement of our times.

Do these social phenomena constitute a critical juncture in which fundamental change in social organization is or will be taking place? While a difficult and slippery concept, the paper explores the current state of changing modern agrifood systems including the potentialities for fundamental change within the CJ concept. Explicating the proliferating AAMs, it seeks to understand the social forces driving AAM creation and growth. I will argue that this growth is driven by two basic social structural forces: (1) the shift of the employed labor force from industrial manufacturing to information and services technologies, and (2) the startling expansion of scale of food production, distribution, marketing, and consumption that has given birth to unparalleled numbers and frequencies of food disasters. The paper also examines the current state of the AAMs to assess their ability to transform agrifood social relationships.

Smallholder Incorporation in Global Value Chains and Regional Trajectories

Niels Fold
University of Copenhagen

During the recent decades, incorporation of smallholders in world market dynamics has intensified in many developing countries. New producer regions are being linked to consumers in the North either because natural resources have started to be exploited on a grand scale in 'frontier' regions or because new demand patterns have catapulted existing agricultural regions into production of alternative crops. Whereas the former is mostly linked to expanded production of traditional tropical perennial crops (like coffee, cocoa, tea, rubber, etc.) the latter often materializes when well-established agricultural regions shift into production of high value products such as fresh fruit and vegetables. In periods of rapidly increasing demand, these regions experience dramatic changes in demographic structure and socio-economic dynamics. Some settlements develop into commercial urban centres while others stagnate or degenerate, some regions diversify and become resilient against subsequent busts while others traverse comprehensive depressions caused by declining demand and prices. In addition, new opportunities for livelihood diversification may be seized by some households fostering private accumulation and social fragmentation while other households are captured by vicious circles of borrowing, heavy debt and - eventually - dispossession from land. This paper addresses these kaleidoscopic outcomes by comparing four types of dynamic regions in Ghana and Vietnam, in particular focussing on the interrelationship between livelihood diversification, new spatial dynamics and the organisational manifestation of global value chains in particular territories.

Moving the Margins of Markets:
Smallholders, NGOs and Global Agribusiness in Northern Ghana

Peter Lindner
Goethe-University, Frankfurt a. M.

In recent years the global market for agricultural commodities has changed fundamentally. A rising demand for convenience and just in time-products as well as ethical and health-related criteria of consumption are part of these changes. They express not only different preferences of customers but modify the very notion of "quality" of a product and consequently affect the production processes in the Global South. Many of the newly important criteria of a "good" fruit or vegetable cannot - like nutrition facts or freshness - be verified with the products themselves but have to be certified by independent third parties and organizations. A quickly increasing number of hygienic, organic, fair trade, sustainability and social standards are the consequence and auditing has become a business in its own right.
The newly required criteria often go far beyond the core business and competencies of the big exporters of agricultural commodities. They stimulate new forms of cooperation with smallholders, NGOs, international organizations and states who support certain ways of production and link them to their own goals (regional development, protection of the environment etc.). The presentation uses case studies from Ghana to show how this leads to a shift of the borders of markets in a double sense: On the one hand, new regions and sectors are integrated into the world agrarian market and on the other hand exporters extend their range of activities to create symbolic value for their products by engaging in social and environmental activities.

Moving the Margins of Markets:
Governance of the Global Value Chains and Coordination of Local Players:
Who Benefits from Quality Upgrading in the Fresh Tomato Export Sector in Morocco and in Turkey?

Selma Tozanli
Fatima El Haddad Gauthier

CIHEAM Institute Montpellier

Large retailers are integrating more and more local players in their supply chains that are continuously restructured in an ever pacing globalization process. These large retailers, by designing and applying their proper quality standards expand their impact over their national boundaries and appear to be the worldwide lead players of the global value chains. However integration to these global chains bring along important structural changes in the local economy by creating a significant concentration of power and capital in the hands of major local players.. We argue that the introduction of international standards (public and private) creates an important concentration of power and capital in the hands of major local players (large exporters, large local packing enterprises) leaving aside small landholders. Thus the technological and organisational innovations do not really help these latter to upgrade their production systems. The local players must adopt collective strategies in order to keep their bargaining power facing to lead players of the global value chains. So, they need to upgrade their competences continuously by investing in horticultural development, applying integrated agricultural methods and improving the sanitary quality of their fresh produce.
We illustrate our argumentation by two case studies: the coordination and reconfiguration of the fresh tomatoes export sector in Morocco and in Turkey by large European retailers.

Moving the Margins of Markets:
"No Entry for Strangers? - The Community of Touzaikou and its Strategy Facing Intensive Export Production in Morocco"

Sarah Ruth Sippel
Leipzig University

Touzaikou - situated in the South Moroccan Souss region - is a small village surrounded by greenhouses. The intensive production of fresh vegetables in this region since the 1990s has deeply changed landscape and local live: Firstly, the overexploitation of the water resources by capital strong investors resulted in the lowering of the groundwater and a lot of local wells ran dry in the 1990s. Since deepening of the wells was too expensive for the majority of the village farmers, most of them left agriculture and became often field workers in the greenhouses. Secondly, the high demand of unskilled laborers in the big farms shifted the village live. In some cases, more than 50 % of a village's inhabitants are now field workers from other Moroccan regions, who settled there recently. Conflicts between this "immigrants" and the "locals" were unavoidable. As the only example for the whole region, the community of Touzaikou dealt with these two processes in a very particular manner. While also most of the Touzaikou farmers had already left agriculture in the 1990s, the community decided not to sell or rent their land anymore and started a project of collective irrigation. Today, half of the village's inhabitants have restarted to cultivate their land and deliver even for the export market. At the same time, the community strongly avoided the settlement of field workers in the village and therefore closed their doors for any kind of "strangers": immigrants or investors. The strategy of "exclusion" can be considered as successful for the Touzaikoui - is this a solution for the region?

New Migrant Work Force in the French Extensive Agriculture

Swanie Potot
Nice Sophia-Antipolis University

Harsh international competition in agriculture, transformations of its production process and European Union enlargement play in favour of deep changes in the management of farm foreign workers in Western Europe. Resulting from a fieldwork conducted in South of France in 2006-2007 (This research is part of a collective project: Migragri funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche http://www.unice.fr/urmis/spip.php?article200) , I propose to analyse this phenomenon considering it as symptomatic of the impact of globalization on working migration. Foreign manpower has greatly evolved during the last decades. The recourse to daily undocumented workers is not new but has nowadays a definite role in the job structure. Being illegal, they remind out of any juridical protection and are entirely devoted to their employers, so they put pressure on the legal one. In parallel, since 1992, legislation concerning seasonal foreign workers has been deeply modified, to be closer from the employer's demand of flexibility and open to new eastern European migrants. Meanwhile, both recruitment forms are over passed by a third one: sub-contracted workers, "posted" by foreign firms whom situation is quite ambiguous regarding French law. Firms from all over the world can send reliable workers on a cheaper basis with the advantage of externalising the management of the human resource. In this communication, we shall explain why and how this complex situation has occurred. Doing so, the global economic context and new ways of managing agricultural work will be described. Focusing on the new forms of recruitment, we'll intend to examine how various sources of manpower have emerged and coordinate to construct a full segmented system of labour. Through the case of agriculture, our point will be to illustrate how weak economic sectors, submitted to globalization process, tend to experiment newest deregulated forms of employment, sometimes even forcing legislation to adapt.

Fictive Commodities and the Embeddedness of Contemporary Agriculture:
A Multi-Case Study

JoAnn Jaffe
University of Regina

The concept of embeddedness, initially developed by Karl Polyani in the 1940's, has recently been revived by social analysts who are critical of the contemporary commercial industrial agri-food system and anxious to lend credence to alternative practices. This move to embeddedness is a reassertion of the capacity of social and political institutions and concerns to rein in the economy. It can also be conceptualized as being the degree to which the economy is reliant on relations of social power and authority to function rather than on 'objective' market transactions. In the case of agri-food systems, re-embedding is about putting into play the principles of conviviality and reducing the degree to which purely economic considerations determine outcomes. This may be conceptualized as having both horizontal and vertical dimensions. Within multi-level governance systems, re-embedding must address how food networks/chains are qualitatively linked to the social, economic and political and how other values beyond profit can assert their claims in the agri-food system. Re-embedding does not necessarily imply a more socially or environmentally just agri-food system, however. What is required is for the agri-food economy to be embedded in more equal and equitable social relations and be subordinated to democracy and eco-social justice. Drawing on material from a multi-case study of primarily agriculturally based communities in Western Canada, the point of departure for this paper is that the dynamic of embeddedness partially derives from the necessity to claim and reclaim the fictive commodities of land, labour and money under capitalism. Following Polanyi's perspective, it analyzes embeddedness within its contradictory and dialectical moments of development. This paper emphasizes that the apparent lack of embeddedness of contemporary agriculture is also fictive - an ideological construct serving to hide patriarchal, racialized, and classist social relations.

Historical Legacies and Contemporary Challenges Facing Pastoralism in New Zealand with Specific Reference to the Meat Industry

Michael Roche
Massey University

As a southern hemisphere settler state where food and fibre exports remain crucial to the national economy New Zealand offers a regional context that problematises the binary of developed world equals net food importer and developing world equals net food exporter. This paper will briefly consider the historical conditions under which pastoralism emerged in New Zealand. Three key transformative moments will then be sketched out before turning to some present day economic, social, and environmental issues facing pastoralism. Thereafter attention turns to the export meat industry as a particular agri-food complex undergoing significant change in terms of investment conditions. Finally Food Regimes is put forward as a useful framework for understanding the longer term trajectory of changes within the pastoral sector in New Zealand.

Disrupting Social Construct in Nuba Mountains Region:
An Account of the Sudanese State's Disguised Development Interventions

Guma Kunda Komey
University of Juba / Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg)

This paper conceives region/ territory not as a mere geographical space, but as a social construct and subsequently, as a basis for economic livelihood and survival, and a symbol for social and political identification for the bulk of rural societies, particularly in Africa. Contrary to this assertion, the presented ethnographic material from the Nuba Mountains region in Sudan shows how the priorities and interests of the rural communities, inhabiting this well defined geographic, socio-economic and political territory, continued to be persistently undermined by the state induced development interventions in the name of 'national' or 'public' interests. The introduction of mechanized rain-fed farming schemes in the region since the 1960s followed by oil exploration in the 1990s are two major development interventions in the name of 'public interest' but at the expense of the local communities and their subsistence livelihoods. One direct result, as the paper demonstrates, is a multifaceted socio-economic and ecological disruption. This is coupled with livelihoods insecurities and political instability that produced a massive poverty, recurring violence, a large scale protracted civil war, and subsequent comprehensive destruction of the territory-based communal livelihoods in the region. The ramifications of this state driven disruption are traceable not only during the formal civil war (1985-2002) but they also continue to persist, though in different forms, in the current post-conflict situation that followed the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9 January 2005.

Land, Territory & Dispossession in the Middle East: Reflections on Reform, Resistance and Social Reproduction in Rural Egypt

Ray Bush
University of Leeds

This presentation will look at the ways in which land policy, agrarian reform and market liberalisation has promoted patterns of dispossession and poverty in the Middle East. Specific reference will be made to the case of Egypt where the `counter revolution´ against Nasser´s agrarian reform of the 1950s and early 1960s has created in the 90s and the new millennium, accelerated class formation and economic hardship. A consequence of market reform in the agricultural sector has been the promotion of a subordinated agrarian capitalism dependent upon an idea of comparative advantage for high value low nutritious foodstuffs for overseas markets. This repeats policy concerns of the late 80s and there is yet to be any evidence that market liberalization, large scheme agriculture and export driven growth will deliver improved food security and rural well being. On the contrary, increased rural poverty and increased rural opposition to market reform poses a challenge to donors, international financial institutions and the GoE. It is particularly noteworthy that the condition of rural women, especially female headed households, has been threatened by tenure reform and this impact is likely to have consequences for social reproduction and maintenance of rural society.