Autonomy in agrarian studies, politics, and movements : An inter-paradigm debate

Vergara-Camus, Leandro; Jansen, Kees


Autonomy has been a term often used in agrarian studies to express the ability of individuals or collective subjects to escape the rule of capital or the control of the state. Academic interventions on autonomy in different fields and disciplines discuss how global capitalism operates and what kind of subjects, spaces, and practices can resist it and build alternatives to it. However, a closer look at the literature reveals contending notions of autonomy. This special issue therefore aims to stimulate theoretical debates on autonomy. This introduction provides an overview of the general problematic and major theoretical debates around which the discussion on autonomy has been taking place. This problematic is not specific to rural social subjects but involves the discussion within the Left about the need and possibility for radical social change. This article explores how ideas about autonomy are used by radical agrarian movements and critical agrarian studies scholars. It also presents the key issues covered by and the arguments of the different contributors to this special issue.