IV International Congress 6-7-8 September 2023. Universidade de Coimbra. Faculdade de Economia


production and supply dynamics in the long term

Call For Sessions

The University of Coimbra hosts the IV International Congress – XVIII Congreso de História Agraria y XI Encontro Rural Report – from 6 to 8 September 2023. As in previous years, the event is organised by Rural Report – Rede de História Rural em Português – and SEHA – Sociedad de Estudios de Historia Agraria – with CEIS20 – Centro de Estudos Interdisciplinares da Universidade de Coimbra – as organising entity, through the research group Paisagens em mudança. Laboratório da longa duração The conference will take place at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra and is also supported by the Centro de História da Sociedade e da Cultura of the University of Coimbra and the City Council of Coimbra.

This IV International Congress proposes to discuss a fundamental question: how to feed the human population? This is an important issue today as it was in the past. Because access to sufficient food is a vital need, how to achieve this goal has always been a central ambition for Humanity. As an individual and collective challenge, the solutions found varied according to time and place. This congress aims to contribute to identify and explain these solutions, promoting interpretations anchored in historical knowledge about the dynamics of production, transaction, transformation, storage and consumption of food.

The term food sovereignty emerged in the 1980s, entering the debates lexicon inside and outside the academy since it was launched by Via Campesina, in the mid-1990s. When looking for alternatives to the agri-food system that has become dominant in the last century, discussing food sovereignty has gained increasing relevance. Definitions of food sovereignty have varied and lack consensus. Even so, the most recurrent formulations express ideas associated with the need to (re)connect those who produce, distribute and consume food as an essential way to implement everyone’s right to healthy, sustainable and culturally appropriate food.

Studies on food sovereignty often evoke the past, namely when discussing changes or continuities in the relationships of local communities with the territories and institutions in which they are imbedded. But the conceptions, knowledge or practices that establish these specific inheritances in the different communities still lack detailed historical analyses. What does it mean to address food sovereignty historically? How can knowledge about the past of local communities contribute to the solutions needed today?

The congress is an opportunity to enhance the intersection of inter&transdisciplinary approaches in the long term, building a comparative history of agricultural and food strategies developed by local communities on both sides of the Atlantic. On the one hand, it is essential to understand the internal dynamics of different rural or urban communities, designing routines for the production and consumption of foodstuffs. On the other hand, it is necessary to assess how the contacts established with local communities, in the context of various continental or transcontinental empires and nation-states, influenced productive specialization and the building of broad exchange networks.

Historically, these strategies can be related to different issues, such as the expansion of cultivated areas with polyculture or monoculture; construction of irrigation systems and changing conditions of access to water; land concentration mechanisms and agrarian reforms; dissemination of new cultivated seeds and (agro)biodiversity; action by public authorities managing local supplies and global markets; informal and formal economy procedures; unequal distribution of income and living conditions; local and translocal social movements; healthy eating and possible diets; experiences of food shortages and self-supply solutions; exploitation of finite natural resources and private interests; work organization and migrations; development of agribusiness and production options; impacts of climate change and variations in dietary patterns; new technologies and financial investment; functioning of international organizations and local interests; etc. These are some of the topics that challenge the understanding of the food sovereignty historicity.

Following the spirit of previous congresses, this call aims to encourage a broad discussion, without chronological, spatial or disciplinary boundaries, creating conditions to promote innovative interpretations based on Agrarian and Rural History. The inter&transdisciplinary dialogues on agriculture and food that cross the historiography of several continents engage economics, sociology, archaeology, politics, cultural studies, geography, demography, ecology, anthropology, but also increasingly agronomy, biology, nutrition, genetics, veterinary or chemistry.

This IV International Congress aims to consolidate Agrarian and Rural History studies in a global perspective, simultaneously hosting the XI Rural RePort Meeting and the XVIII Congreso de Historia Agraria del SEHA. The congress is open to the participation of experts from any country, as well as from any discipline and historical period. The working languages are: Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Until November 30, 2022, is open the period for the presentation of proposals for plenary, parallel sessions and round table sessions.

Proposals for plenary sessions (approximately three) must focus on the central themes of the congress, above mentioned, and must also privilege the national and institutional diversity of the participants and the case studies presented. These sessions are intended to promote plural scientific debates on the different aspects related to food sovereignty, connecting the past and the future.

Parallel sessions and round tables sessions tend to have a more specific focus and a smaller number of participants, and may directly or indirectly affect or complement the central themes.

In any case, proposals for theoretical and methodological discussion are very welcome, with comparative and transnational dimensions, based on qualitative and quantitative approaches. Proposals that are not accepted as plenary sessions may be converted into parallel sessions or posters at the suggestion of the Organizing Committee.

There is also a session dedicated to young researchers who are doing their PhD, investigating issues related to Rural and Agrarian History at any university.

For more information contact: alberto.g.remuinan@uc.pt


Until 20 30 November 2022: open call for sessions.

15 December 2022 – 20 February 2023 3 March 2023:
open call for communications

10 March 2023:
information on acceptance of communications

20 March 2023 – 15 June 2023:
submission of communications for online publication

20 March 2023 – 20 May 2023:
reduced price registration fee

21 May 2023 – 21 June 2023:
registration payment

14 July 2023:
release of the final program of the congress