Contested approaches to land-use: sustainability adjustments in social practices in global space


Paul Swagemakers, University of Vigo

Esther Veen, Wageningen University

Talis Tisenkopfs, University of Latvia

Lola Domínguez García, Complutense University of Madrid

Pierluigi Milone, University of Perugia

Karin Zbinden Gysin, Bern University of Applied Sciences



Currently we see adjustments in land-use and farm practices—in some respects these are contested and may endanger family farms and livelihoods—that promote sustainable agriculture, generate knowledge and innovation, and empower family farms to change and adapt to new societal and environmental needs. This WG aims to capture the emerging complex array of institutions and multi-level governance issues that relate to those adjustments. Starting from ‘a readiness to accept geographies and temporalities as they are produced through practices and relations of different spatial stretch and duration’ (Amin 2002:389) it aims to come to grips with how knowledge and resources are constituted and unfold within land-use and farm practices. Building upon Amin’s topologies of practice we look for contributions in which authors constitute geographies ‘through the folds, undulations, and overlaps that natural and social practices normally assume, without any prior assumption of geographies of relations nested in territorial or geometric space’ (Amin 2002:389). From this theoretical standpoint we are especially interested in contributions that present evolving (cohesive) networks as arenas in which actors with different networks and resources meet, interact and influence each other, while recognising that in global space ‘place’ is no longer territorially fixed.

We welcome contributions that unravel the diversity in evolving productive land-use practices and:

  • Analyse rural change in terms that go beyond the urban-rural divide;
  • Reflect on family farming in mountainous (or otherwise marginal, ‘disadvantaged’) areas;
  • Interpret food and forestry production in terms of the provision of ecosystem services;
  • Evaluate the economic performance or provision of public goods on the basis of systemic indicators at farm and regional level;
  • Identify, analyse and evaluate communities that re-nature gardens and other green spaces, and/or;
  • Reflect on territorial governance strategies oriented — but not exclusively — on a multifunctional, cost-effective use of space through market and/or public payments.

Contributions should identify how knowledge and resources are part of global circuitry (anchoring in Amin’s theoretical notion of the ‘spatiality of contemporary social organisation), and stress or respond to the question how the production of territories and scales is contested, and involve clashes of scale and contested boundaries.


In order to benefit from senior specialist knowledge and create a learning environment for less experience researchers, a guest speaker (senior researcher) hosts the session and introduces the theme (5 minutes), followed by short talks (3-5 minutes) by other presenters, whereby each presenter prepares (and thus poses) a question to a fellow presenter; the floor is also opened to the audience for Q&A. Depending on group sizes, sessions might turn into lively debates or turn into workshops that aim to provide presenters with constructive suggestions to help move their work forward.


Amin, A. (2002). Spatialities of globalisation. Environment and Planning A 34: 385-399