This article introduces a special issue that is dedicated to a critical inquiry of the deagrarianisation and depeasantisation theses. It sets the scene for the contributions that are included in the special issue and sketches the themes that are covered. An analysis of this kind is important because ultimately, it is concerned with key agrarian questions about the future of family farming, food security and sovereignty, land-based livelihoods and rural areas as a whole.
The contributions to this special issue explore ways of conceptualising agriculture and the rural. For some, a leading question is whether and how processes of repeasantisation and re-agrarianisation are relevant to robust agrarian pathways. Other contributions prefer relational approaches and analyse transformation processes using concepts like ‘territory’ and ‘(re- and/or de-)territorialisation’, ‘landscape’ and ‘assemblages’ to examine processes of change in the rural domain. They share the premise that it is worthwhile exploring the underlying dynamics of these processes as real and representing agrarian pathways that hold the promise of a dynamic agrarian future and vibrant countrysides. The articles also agree on the need to go beyond understanding development as unilinear and dichotomous. They all engage critically with the rather predominant view that deagrarianisation and depeasantisation are inevitable, evolutionary outcomes of the ongoing processes of agrarian transformation.