This paper examines the recent changes in global land politics and agrarian movements and the activists and academics that mobilize around and study these issues. There are several arguments, or propositions for discussion, in this paper:
(1) Land politics today are more diverse than at other points during the past century;
(2) The changing character of land politics has shaped the broadening social movements that mobilize around land issues: some agrarian movements have transformed into environmental and climate justice movements as well as food sovereignty movements --or have moved on towards alliance-building (objective or subjective) with environmental and climate justice as well as food sovereignty movements;
(3) During the past three decades, the transnationalization of agrarian movements has been one of the most significant shifts in agrarian politics,
(4) The changes in land politics and agrarian movements in light of the changing global context have ushered in a new period and inspired a new generation of agrarian scholar-activists. By scholar-activism, I mean, rigorous academic work that aims to change the world, or committed activist work that is informed by rigorous academic research, which is explicitly and unapologetically connected to political projects or movements. There are three types of scholar-activists in this broad sense:
(1) scholar-activists who are primarily located in academic institutions who do activist work and are connected to a political project or movement(s);
(2) scholar-activists who are principally based in social movements or a political project and do scholar-activism from within; and
(3) scholar-activists who are mainly located in non-academic independent research institutions who do activist work and connect with a political project or movement(s).
The changes on the agrarian front have also altered the character and reshaped the agenda of scholar-activism, as well as the style, methods, strategy and tactics of work. It is thus important to have a better understanding of contemporary scholar-activists in general. However we must not see agrarian scholar activists as a stand-alone category, but in relationship to their institutional location and in the context of their interaction with other scholars and activists, to highlight the tensions, synergies, limits, and possibilities for agrarian scholar-activism. I conclude by putting forward a proposition for discussion around the idea of an ‘agrarian scholar-activist research movement.’