Rural politics in the time of global land grabs and neoliberal agricultural development have received much international attention. However, the processes at work in the post-socialist countryside (such as in Russia and Ukraine) are rarely addressed in the critical agrarian studies debates. The prefix ‘post-’ in post-socialist and post-Soviet studies is often associated with lagging behind. This doctoral study demonstrates that the analysis of rural politics in these settings can generate new insights about contemporary changes in the agrarian world. This study investigates official rural politics (the state politics of resource allocation and large-scale agricultural development); politics of organised rural resistance and mobilisation; and everyday unorganised rural practices of adaptation, compliance, resistance and acquiescence in contemporary Russia and Ukraine. It demonstrates that land grabbing and the development of large-scale industrial agriculture are often accepted by post-Soviet villagers, who – contrary to rural people in other parts of the world – do not necessarily resist, but rather struggle to be incorporated into large-scale agriculture. This study also shows that small-scale subsistence farming can coexist with large-scale agriculture, due to the continuation of the Soviet dual agricultural system and the symbiotic relations between large and small farms. The analysis of rural resistance and mobilisation in post-socialist post-Soviet settings reveals that social movements and activists are more effective when they cooperate with the state and employ official regulations, norms and rhetoric in their politics, rather than openly oppose the regime. Finally, the study indicates that the rights to culturally appropriate food and defining one’s own food system are not alien to the post-Soviet population. However, these ideas are not accompanied by public discourses and open mobilisation, thus, representing a ‘quiet’ form of what can still be seen as food sovereignty.

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M.N. Spoor (Max) , S.M. Borras jr. (Saturnino) , O. Visser (Oane)
Erasmus University Rotterdam , International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)
European Research Council (ERC), Netherlands Academie on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development (LANDac), Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI), Political Economy of Resources, Environment and Population (PER) research group of ISS
ISS PhD Theses
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Mamonova, N. (2016, November 23). Rethinking rural politics in postsocialist settings. ISS PhD Theses. Retrieved from