REMINDER: Assistant Professor Rural Sociology vacancy (Tenure Track) – application deadline 12 September 2022

A month ago we posted a job opening for an Assistant Professor in Rural Sociology (Tenure Track position). If you are interested to apply or know of potential candidates, please be aware that the deadline for submitting applications is approaching. Applications can be submitted up to and including September 12th 2022 via the apply button on the vacancy page.

Workshop The Margins of Insurgent Control: Spaces of Governance

On September 1st and 2nd, the CSPS will host an international workshop featuring anthropologists, ethnographers, rural sociologists, social geographers, social movement scholars to discuss the field of rebel governance, which has been most authoritatively defined as the “the set of actions insurgents engage in to regulate the social, political, and economic life of non-combatants during war.” The workshop is hosted by Francis O’Connor and Joost Jongerden.

Research on rebel governance has dramatically reinvigorated the study of armed conflicts through its increasing methodological diversity and broad range of case studies. Yet, it is arguably characterised by an over focus on the state-like qualities of these movements, seeking out institutionalised patterns of governance that overlook some of the subtleties of how rebel governance emerges and develops in the shadow of existing states and in cohort with other societal actors. This workshop will focus on the margins of the phenomenon, emphasising the social complexity inherent in practises of rebel governance shaped by pre-existing political and cultural ties, reciprocal social norms confronted by structures of state and insurgent violence in contexts of often dramatic social upheaval.

The workshop’s participants will focus on four issues: firstly, they will address the spatial margins, where insurgent presence is more fluid or inconsistent and there is no territorial control but where forms of governance are nevertheless implemented. Secondly, they will consider early phases of insurgent mobilisation where incipient forms of governance are tested and refined but marginal in salience. Thirdly, they will analyse governance provision by actors on the margins of insurgent movements themselves, looking at the role of affiliated but somewhat autonomous groupings like militias or associated social movements. Finally, they will also reflect on the complexity of overlapping realms of sovereignty between rebel movements and state institutions and forces.

In order to conceptually incorporate these issues into rebel governance research, there is a need to bridge the existing literature with other related approaches such as social geography, social anthropology, social movement studies and contentious politics. The participants will take the workshop an opportunity to reflect on how best (or indeed, if it is necessary) to incorporate these approaches into the study of rebel movements’ governance efforts.

The workshop will be structured around the following (non-exhaustive) number of ethical and methodological issues and key questions that could play a role in the further development of the field.

Continue reading

Masterclass: Methodological and Ethical Dimensions of Fieldwork

The Masterclass for PhD researchers, hosted by renowned Visiting Fellow Prof. Zachariah Mampilly focuses on the ethical and methodological challenges of fieldwork. Professor Mampilly has extensive experience in the field, in authoritarian contexts and conflict zones in locations as varied as Sri Lanka, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Masterclass is designed for PhD students, Post-Docs and staff members as an opportunity to collectively reflect on both the pragmatic dimensions of fieldwork, as well as the ethical dilemmas that arise before, during and after periods in the field. It will also be an occasion to discuss the epistemological consequences of the choices made in the field and how that affects the research we produce and the potential ‘real world’ consequences they might entail.

Professor Mampilly will guide a structured discussion, reflecting on his own experiences in the field. The session will then open into an informal exchange where participants are encouraged to reflect on the issues they encountered in past or ongoing fieldwork, as well as anticipated difficulties in upcoming periods in the field.
A number of the participants already present in Wageningen for the The Margins of Insurgent Control: Spaces of Governance (September 1-2nd) workshop will also be in attendance and will serve as valuable sources of interchange and information.

An enhanced understanding of the potential challenges and solutions that all researchers are confronted with in the field. It is also the chance to ask focused questions to experienced scholars about fieldwork in specific places, for e.g. on conflict in Sudan or environmental related research in the Amazon.

Questions and registration
Please address any questions to Francis O’Connor
Registration is mandatory: please register at the following link as in-person places are limited due to ongoing COVID restrictions. It is also possible to participate online.

When and where
Date: Wed 31 August 2022 14:00 to 17:00
Venue: Leeuwenborch, building number 201

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Job opening: Assistant Professor Rural Sociology (tenure track position)

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University invites applicants for a tenure Track position (assistant professor, 0.8 – 1.0 fte) in rural sociology, with a focus on critical agrarian and rural studies and international development studies.

In this challenging career trajectory:

  • You will undertake independent research and participate in (international) research projects, focusing on topics such as inclusive agrarian and rural development,  agri-food system dynamics, international comparison of agrarian change, and the politics of agrarian and rural development.
  • You will teach and coordinate one or more courses for the Bachelor and Master programs International Development Studies (BIN/MID) and the Master programs Organic Agriculture (MOA) and Rural Development and Innovation (MDR). On our website you find all courses, and they are clearly connected with our research
  • You will also  supervise Bachelor and Master thesis students for these programs.

Other aspects of the job include project acquisition, training and supervision of PhD students and participation in research or education committees. Approximately 40-45% of your time will be spent on research, 40- 45% on education and 10-20% on management and academic service activities.

We ask

We are looking for candidates with

  • A PhD degree in agrarian or rural sociology, human geography, anthropology, or related social science discipline;
  • An inspiring vision on rural sociology and the future challenges and priorities of agriculture and rural development from a critical perspective;
  • Evidence of high quality research in rural studies, preferably proven by the ability to publish in leading scientific journals and/or with top academic publishers;
  • A relevant international academic network, combined with good connections with grassroots networks and policymakers (at different levels);
  • Ample empirical research experience in different geographical settings (preferably Europe as well as the global South), allowing for a comparative perspective;
  • Ability to develop high-quality research proposals and to be(come) successful in the acquisition of externally funded research grants;
  • Ability to work in interdisciplinary and international teams;
  • Good didactic qualities and the capacity to motivate and inspire students;
  • Teaching competences that comply with the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program (LTHEP, in Dutch referred to as BKO, a system adopted by all Dutch universities) or willingness to follow the LTHEP;
  • Strong communicative and interpersonal skills and a flexible and collaborative attitude.
  • Fluency in English and, if appropriate, commitment to learn Dutch within 2 years of appointment.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will be offered a fixed-term, 7 year contract which, upon positive evaluation based on criteria elaborated in the University’s Tenure Track policy, can lead to a permanent employment contract as professor. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between €3.974,- and €6.181,-  for a full-time working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 11 or 12).

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information
Additional enquiries should be addressed to the chair of the Rural Sociology group, Prof. dr. Han Wiskerke (E-mail address: A more detailed profile of the Rural Sociology Group can be found in its 75th Anniversary book ‘On meaningful diversity: past, present and future of Wageningen rural sociology’.
Tenure Track is a career path for hardworking scientists who pursue to excel in education and research. We seek to attract scientific talent and to stimulate and support their development.

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on the WUR website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

To apply, please upload the following:

  • Letter of motivation
  • A current Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications
  • Names and contact details of two referees
  • One selected publication
  • A teaching dossier or statement of teaching interests and experience (including teaching outlines and evaluations if available)

Please note that only applications sent through the online application button can be taken into consideration.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including September 12th 2022. The first job interviews will be scheduled on 28-30 September 2022. A second interview including a (public) lecture will be held on 13 or 14 October 2022. Candidates invited for a second interview will also be asked to submit  a written statement on their research vision of the advertised position.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

Wageningen University and Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialized research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

The Rural Sociology Group (RSO)
Central to the research program of the Rural Sociology is a relational approach to transformation processes, explored from the perspective of the everyday life of people, and with a focus on agrarian and rural change, food provisioning, and place-based development. These processes are studied from an range of critical perspectives (e.g. interpretative and micro-sociological perspective, cultural political economy, or governmentality studies). We actively engage in interdisciplinary (including collaborations with natural scientists), multi-method and multi-stakeholder approaches. A common denominator in our research is the focus on actors, agency, institutionalization of practices, differential development paths, and political organization.
Our mission is to contribute to the development of sustainable and socially acceptable modes of farming, food provisioning, and rural development, which foster social and spatial justice. Through our research we attempt to un-familiarize the familiar and undertake critical analyses, but, importantly, also be transformative by engaging in the exploration of new practices and by showing a diversity of credible options beyond dominant understandings and constellations. A key characteristic of our research program is its threefold relevance: it should contribute to the scientific development of our field and scientific discipline(s), inform policymaking and provide support for practitioners.

The Rural Sociology Group is embedded in the sub-department Space, Place & Society (SPS)  together with two other chair groups: Health & Society (HSO) and Sociology of Development and Change (SDC). Within SPS the groups share administrative support and collaborate in education. Together with the Cultural Geography group the sub-department Space, Place and Society has founded the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS), which aims to advance critical-constructive scholarship within the social sciences with a particular focus on issues of socio-spatial inequalities and social and environmental justice. Within the CSPS the chair groups participate in research and PhD supervision and training.

More information about Wageningen University, the Rural Sociology Group, the sub-department SPS and CSPS can be obtained through one of the following links.


Kees Jansen and Leandro Vergara-Camus

Autonomy has been a word that has been rolling off the tongues of leftist activists and academics for decades and has been the subject of countless articles and books. It has been theorised from Marxist, Anarchist, Post-Marxist, Foucauldian and Feminist perspectives. Historically, the term autonomy has often been used to express the ability of individuals or collective subjects to escape, in one way or another, the rule of capital or the control of the state. More recently, academic interventions on autonomy have been fundamentally about assessing how global capitalism operates and what kinds of subjects, spaces, and practices can resist it and build alternatives to it. Within agrarian studies and peasant movements, the concept has referred to the ability of peasants to mount collective responses to the dominant actors in the globalised market or within the state, while remaining independent from political parties or politicians. For indigenous movements, the term autonomy has been associated with a struggle or a project to take back control over their ancestral territories by challenging the nation-state. Discussions about autonomy are thus necessarily about the collective agency of social subjects within capitalism.

The idea of a special issue on autonomy in agrarian studies, politics and movements then was triggered by discussions within the Agrarian Change Working Group at the IIPPE annual conference in Lisbon and Pula. We followed this up with a workshop with contributors, hosted by Kees Jansen, at Wageningen University in the Netherlands in December 2019, just before the pandemic. This was a unique workshop where we debated, as social scientists, ontological and epistemological questions: the current nature of capitalism, its different manifestations in rural settings across the world, the ways different rural groups are inserted within it, and the struggles that different agrarian movements have led to resist it economically, politically and culturally. Coming from different theoretical traditions or positions, we had different understandings of markets and market relations, the role of collective action as well as the dialectical relationship between agency and structure.

This lack of consensus has been preserved in the Special Issue as well, which we hope can contribute to an inter-paradigm debate within agrarian studies on this topic. At the same time, in keeping with the tradition of the Journal of Agrarian Change, the different uses of the term (and the perspectives on) autonomy have been critically discussed from a critical agrarian political economy approach and placed within contexts of contradictory and complex class, ethnic and gender relationships.

The contributions critically analyse and assess different experiences of autonomy (peasant, indigenous, women, and guerrilla) by focusing on the varying spheres from which autonomy is sought (the market, the state, development, patriarchy) and on the type of collective action adopted by the different groups (economic, political, ethno-cultural). It includes contributions covering Latin America, the Middle East, and South-East Asia that are organised around the following four themes:

i) Capitalism in the Countryside and in Agricultural Production: The first discussion of autonomy revolves around a critical assessment of the type of agency that emerges around the demand and search for autonomy and the conditions that make it possible. Characterisations of contemporary capitalism in the countryside, the nature of small-scale farming, and the class position and consciousness of subaltern agricultural producers are central to this discussion. Natarajan and Brickell engage with feminist scholarship on women’s reproductive labour and combine it with Henry Bernstein’s critique of the notion of the autonomous ‘peasant’. They explore how the deeper market integration of women in rural Cambodia, through distress sales of land or use of land as collateral for microfinance borrowing, simultaneously renders women more dependent on markets whilst also constituting a temporary path towards an aspirational autonomy. Jansen, Vicol, and Nikol, on the other hand, develop a critique of van der Ploeg’s book The New Peasantries which presents the struggle for autonomy as central to the peasant condition. They dissect the book’s peasant bias, the usefulness of the notion of autonomy in a human society saturated with social relationships and the neglect of the complexities of agrarian class formation and differentiation at the local level.

ii) Autonomy from the Market or via the Market: The second discussion of autonomy has to do with the different ways of conceptualising markets, especially the relationship between capitalist relations and non-capitalist relations. Sankey shows how different histories, levels and types of market integration within Colombia lead to different kinds of exposure to the imperative of the market and responses to the crisis of small-scale agriculture triggered by neoliberalism. Using the case of O Circuito, an extended market in Brazil constructed by a peasant movement and its urban allies, the paper by van der Ploeg and Schneider develop the notion that autonomy is a political collective project that can rest on the construction of ‘nested markets’.

iii) Social Movements, Autonomy in State and Non-state Politics: All the contributions address questions of class, state and politics, but these questions are the central focus of the contributions by Bretón et al., Guimarães and Wanderley, and Jongerden. Bretón et al. draw from four emblematic cases of peasant and indigenous autonomy in Latin America (the MST in Brazil, the indigenous movement in Ecuador, the indigenous and Afro-descendants in the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, and the peasant movement in Mexico) to critically analyse the promises, achievements, and contradictions of projects of autonomy during the era of neoliberalism across four dimensions: political independence, economic relations, ethno-cultural goals, and the internal politics.

Following a fundamentally political understanding of autonomy inspired by Cornelius Castoriadis, Guimarães and Wanderley build a Polanyian analysis of the different forms of organisation and struggles that indigenous peasants adopted in Bolivia. Still another approach emerges in the paper by Jongerden who argues that agricultural development by the Kurdish movement in Rojava and North and East Syria is better seen as a third, self-constituting, or autonomous mode of ordering. He traces the influence of Murray Bookchin’s autonomist thought on Kurdish intellectuals and discusses the recent Kurdish agrarian policies in Rojava to rebuild the war-ridden agrarian economy on the principle of autonomy.

iv) Autonomy and Technological Revolutions: While several other papers discuss this theme tangentially, for Stone, the question of autonomy is centrally one of technology and knowledge. He shows how the emerging surveillance farming seems to be replicating earlier phases of agricultural development. Stone also raises concerns about how the big data revolution in agriculture could lead to agricultural deskilling and loss of farmer’s autonomy.

A deeper understanding of autonomy in political theory and practice, as developed through this Special Issue, sheds new light on how to conceptualise class within the continuum of a basically economic category or the outcome of a political process. It asks what makes certain social subjects, be it peasants, indigenous peoples or revolutionaries develop an ideology and political projects that present autonomy (from the market, the state or development) as a desired horizon.

Read the full introduction by the Special Issue editors here.

Read the full Special Issue here – Free access for three months.