What is ICAS?

Hosted at ISS in The Hague, the Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS) has been established as a community of like-minded scholars, development practitioners and activists from different parts of the world who are working on agrarian issues.
  • ICAS is a common ground, a common space for critical scholars, development practitioners and movement activists. It is a pluralist initiative, intended to allow vibrant exchanges of views among scholars, development policy experts and movement activists coming from various progressive ideological perspectives.
  • ICAS responds to the need for an initiative that builds and focuses on linkages -- between academics, development policy practitioners, social movement activists; between the world’s North and South, South and South; between rural-agricultural and urban-industrial sectors; between experts and non-experts.
  • ICAS responds to the need for an initiative that advocates for a mutually reinforcing co-production and mutually beneficial sharing of knowledge.
  • ICAS promotes critical thinking, which here means: conventional assumptions are interrogated, popular propositions critically examined, and new ways of questioning composed, proposed and pursued.
  • ICAS believes in and promotes engaged research and scholarship. This means an emphasis on research and scholarship that is both academically interesting and socially relevant, and further, implies taking the side of the poor.

In this initiative, the overarching theme is ‘agrarian change’, broadly defined. This is the theme that will bind scholars, activists and development practitioners coming from various disciplines and from all parts of the world.

What do we mean by 'agrarian change'?

The term ‘agrarian change’ is meant here in the broadest definition, referring to agrarian-rural-agricultural world, a world not de-linked from, but rather taken in the context of, other sectors and geographies: industrial and urban, among others. The focus is on contributing to the dynamics of ‘change’ - playing a role not only in (re)interpreting the agrarian world in various ways, but also in changing it – with a clear bias for the working classes, for the poor.

The agrarian world has been profoundly transformed by the contemporary process of neoliberal globalization, demanding new ways of understanding structural and institutional conditions, as well as new visions of how to change these.