Saturnino ('Jun') M. Borras Jr. is a Professor of Agrarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague and Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Peasant Studies. He is a recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (2019-2024) for his research project, "commodity & land rushes: reshaping five spheres of global social life - food, climate change politics, labour/migration, state/citizenship, and geopolitics" in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
He is also an Adjunct Professor at the College of Humanities and Development Studies (COHD) in China Agricultural University, Beijing, a Fellow of the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute (TNI), and Belgium-based Centre Tricontinental/CETRI.
He has several academic and non-academic publications: books, journal special issues and articles. His most recent books are: (1) in Japanese -- ISBN978-4-7503-4745-5 マーク・エデルマン/ サȥルニーノ・ボラスJr. （監訳：舩田クラーセンさやか、訳：岡田ロマンアルカラ佳奈）『国境を越える農民運動ー世界を変える草の根の��ナ߯ス』明石書店、2018年、199頁。(Political Dynamics of Transnational Agrarian Movements) (2018, with Marc Edelman), (2) In Spanish: Movimientos agrarios transnacionales: historia, organizacion y politicas de lucha (Political Dynamics of Transnational Agrarian Movements) (2018, Barcelona: ICARIA, with Marc Edelman); and (3) BRICS and MICs: Implications for Global Agrarian Transformation (2018, Routledge, with B. Cousins, S. Sauer and Y. Jingzhong as co-editors); (4) Converging social justice issues and movements (2020, with Moreda et al, editors).
His thematic areas of work include: land politics (including contemporary 'global resource rush'); (trans)national agrarian movements (TAMs); migrant farmworkers especially in China, Myanmar and Vietnam; resource conflict; climate change politics; food politics; geopolitics, BRICS/MICs and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and global agrarian transformations; state/citizenship, rightwing populism and the rural world. His geographic areas of research interest are: Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and South America. He also studies international institutional 'spaces' of state- society interactions, including the role of global governance institutions.
He has continuing research interest in and efforts at further developing the concepts of ‘flex crops’, ‘land sovereignty’, ‘agrarian climate justice’, ‘land grabs that never were’, 'petty reformism and struggles for deep transformative social reforms around recognition, restitution, redistribution and regeneration,' 'land pillar of food sovereignty', interconnection between climate change politics and resource grabbing (esp. the subtle links between climate change politics and land grabs), converging social justice issues and movements (agrarian, environmental, climate, labour justice), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and agrarian transformations.
He works within the tradition of, and at the same time studies and writes about, scholar-activism. This has been influenced by his professional background: He has been deeply involved in rural social movements since the early 1980s in the Philippines, and later, internationally. He was a founding member of the international peasant and farmer's movement La Via Campesina (LVC), and was a member of LVC's International Coordinating Committee (ICC) in 1993-1996. He has engaged, selectively, with international inter-governmental institutions on specific issues. He was, for example, a member of the FAO High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) team that prepared a report on global land investments; collaborated with FAO (Latin America and the Caribbean) in their earlier study on land grabbing in 17 countries in the region; and led a study commissioned by the European Parliament on land grabbing and human rights.
He has helped establish a global network of academics and social movement activists, the Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS), helps coordinate its work, and in setting up the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) (www.iss.nl/ldpi), a global network of researchers studying land grabbing. He has helped in establishing a network of scholars and activists working on the theme of the rise of the BRICS countries and middle income countries (MICs) and its implications for global agrarian transformations, the "BRICS Initiatives for Critical Agrarian Studies" or BICAS, and the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiatives or ERPI that explores the relationship between the rise of contemporary right-wing populism and the rural world. Finally, in collaboration with PLAAS in South Africa, YARA (Young African Researchers in Agriculture Network), Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), COHD, and CASAS (Collective of Agrarian Scholar-Activists in the South) he is co-organizing the JPS Annual Writeshop intended for young researchers from the Global South.
Among his concluded research undertakings was the project entitled, "Climate change mitigation policies, land grabbing and conflict in fragile states: understanding intersections, exploring transformations in Myanmar and Cambodia" (2014-2018, www.iss.nl/mosaic). The project was funded by the Dutch NWO.
He has an ongoing research on the politics of crop booms and migrant farmworkers inside China (Yunnan and Guangxi) and in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines) - and the links between these societies in terms of natural resource flows, labour regimes, investments, infrastructures, technology, together with research teams from COHD of China Agricultural University, Myanmar team of the Transnational Institute (TNI), and University of Hanoi.
He is part of an ongoing research team anchored by FIAN-International carrying out research in Mali (with Via Campesina's CNOP) and Nigeria (with Friends of the Earth's ERA) on the intersection between climate change politics, resource grabbing, conflict and political contestations; in a major research project funded by IDRC (2018-2020).
He has an ongoing action research initiative on the agrarian sociology and political economy of the rise in popularity of the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances -- southern France/Northern Spain), in collaboration with community activists and several academic researchers.
His academic and activist work on land reform (in the Philippines and internationally) resulted in several publications, including the 2007 monograph Pro-poor Land Reform: A Critique, and the twin volumes Competing views and stategies on agrarian reform (vol 1: Philippine perspective; vol 2: International persepective) that won the 2009 National Book Awards (Social Sciences) in the Philippines.
He has taught at the graduate level in the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, China, Switzerland, Portugal and Finland on the politics of agrarian transformation. He is on the Advisory Board of Malmon at the University of Lisbon; Austrian Science Fund-supported Young Independent Research Group, “Exploring values-based modes of production & consumption in the corporate food regime” at Universitat Innsbruck; ACKnowl-EJ (Academic-Activist Co-Produced Knowledge for Environmental Justice) at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB); LANDac - the Netherlands Land Academy at Utrecht University; DEMETER Project of the Geneva Graduate Institute; GLOCON (Global Change-Local Conflicts) Research Group at Free University of Berlin; Steering Committee member of Dialogue on Transformation; PUSKAHAP -Center for Agrarian Reform and Peasant Rights Studies in Indonesia of the University of North Sumatra (USU); an associate at The Hugo Observatory (Environment, Migration, Politics) at the University of Liege, Belgium; and sits on the board of the Philippine NGO RIGHTS.
He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Journal of Agrarian Change, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Alternatives Sud, Third World Quarterly, Russian Journal of Peasant Studies, and Public Policy: Interdisciplinary Development Perspectives. He is a series (co-)editor of: (a) Routledge-ISS Book Series on Rural Livelihoods, (b) Routledge book series in Critical Agrarian Studies, (c) ICAS book series: 'small books on big ideas' in 'agrarian change & peasant studies' agrarian change available in 10 language editions, and (c) on the advisory board of Cambridge University Press Global Development Studies (Elements) Series.
He is currently (co-)supervising several PhD researchers and is working with a number of post-doctoral fellows. At ISS, he is part of the Political Ecology (PE) Research Group and the teaching Major Agrarian, Food & Environmental Studies (AFES). At the Transnational Institute (TNI) he is part of the global fellowship as well as the Agrarian & Environmental Justice (AEJ) Program.
He studied MA and PhD in development studies at ISS. Both his MA (1997) and PhD (2004) theses were carried out under the supervision of Professors Cristobal Kay and Ben White. He was a post-doctoral fellow at ISS in 2004-2006, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Canada in 2007-2010, before returning to ISS in the beginning of 2011.
He is included in the Web of Science Global Highly Cited Researchers List (2018, 2019, 2020), and has been awarded the 2020 Ester Boserup Prize for research on development.