With unprecedented use of local and national sources, Lauria-Santiago presents a more complex portrait of El Salvador than has ever been ventured before. Using thoroughly researched regional case studies, Lauria-Santiago challenges the accepted vision of Central America in the nineteenth century and critiques the "liberal oligarchic hegemony" model of El Salvador. He reveals the existence of a diverse, commercially active peasantry that was deeply involved with local and national networks of power.
The troubled history of democracy in Latin America has been the subject of much scholarly commentary. This volume breaks new ground by systematically exploring the linkages among the historical legacies of large landholding patterns, agrarian class relations, and authoritarian versus democratic trajectories in Latin American countries. The essays address questions about the importance of large landownders for the national economy, the labor needs and labor relations of these landowners, attempts of landowners to enlist the support of the state to control labor, and the democratic forms of rule in the twentieth century.
Beginning in the fall of 1920, Aleksandr Antonov led an insurgency that became the largest armed peasant revolt against the Soviets during the civil war. Yet by the summer of 1921, the revolt had been crushed, and popular support for the movement had all but disappeared. Until now, details of this conflict have remained hidden. Erik Landis mines recently opened provincial and central Soviet archives and international collections to provide a depth of detail and historical analysis never before possible in this definitive account of the uprising.
Landis examines both sides of the conflict, probing the testimonies of the insurgents, their opponents, and those caught in between. We witness firsthand the frustrations, failures, and internal conflicts of the Bolsheviks and the spirit of rebellion that drove the insurgents and helped drive a localized dispute into a well-organized mass rebellion that struck fear in the hearts of Communist leaders. This political and military threat was influential in bringing about Lenin's conciliatory New Economic Policy, which allowed farmers and villages to sustain themselves in a quasi-market economy.
Bandits and Partisans presents a gripping tale of brutality, domination, and revolt, placing readers at the frontlines of the complex and rich history of the Russian civil war and the consolidation of the new Soviet state.
The years 1945–1965 saw heavy partisan conflict in the rural areas of Colombia, with at least 200,000 people killed. This virtual civil war began as a sectarian conflict between the Liberal and Conservative parties, with rural workers (campesinos) constituting the majority of combatants and casualties. Yet La Violencia resists classification as a social uprising, since calls for social reform were largely absent during this phase of the struggle. In fact, once the elite leadership settled on a power-sharing agreement in 1958, the conflict appeared to subside. This book focuses on the second phase (1958–1965) of the struggle, in which the social dimensions of the conflict emerged in a uniquely Colombian form: the campesinos, shaped by the earlier violence, became social and political bandits, no longer acting exclusively for powerful men above them but more in defense of the peasantry. In comparing them with other regional expressions of bandolerismo, the authors weigh the limited prospects for the evolution of Colombian banditry into full-scale social revolution. Published originally in 1983 as Bandoleros, gamonales y campesinos and now updated with a new epilogue, this book makes a timely contribution to the discourse on social banditry and the Colombian violencia. Its importance rests in the insights it provides not only on the period in question but also on Colombia’s present situation.
Deep inside the soul of Cuba are the campesinos—the men and women who have always worked the countryside across the length and breadth of Cuba, away from cities, towns, and often villages. Resilient, resourceful, and proud, campesinos are the heart and soul of Cuba. The fruit of years of travel among Cuba’s less-known and little-explored rural communities, Campesinos: Inside the Soul of Cuba is a collection of loving and intimate photographs by world-renowned photographers Chip Cooper and Julio Larramendi documenting people and places from every corner of the island nation, many never seen by Cubans themselves let alone visitors from abroad.
Into the center of this world traveled two photographers to document these extraordinary people. One, Julio Larramendi, was born in Cuba and has spent his whole life there. The other, Chip Cooper, came to visit for the first time from his native Alabama more than a decade ago. Together, Cooper and Larramendi have captured the light, sounds, and spirit of the campesino landscape and the humble and determined people who inhabit it, ways of living that have not changed, in many instances, for a century or more. From green tobacco fields and winding roads to the faces, both stern and smiling, of children and their close-knit families, Cooper and Larramendi have captured in this landmark volume the rhythms and traditions of contemporary rural Cuban life in ways never before documented.
In 1994 the Zapatista rebellion brought international attention to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Neil Harvey combines ten years of field work in Chiapas with extensive historical and political research to provide a comprehensive history of conflict in this region and a nuanced analysis of this rural uprising against federal bureaucracy and landed elites. Beginning with an exploration of the history of ethnic and class conflict in Chiapas since the Conquest, Harvey moves specifically to trace the development of peasant and indigenous organizations in Chiapas since the early 1970s. He compares the struggles for agrarian rights of three grassroots movements facing hostility from both local elites and federal bureaucrats. His examination of the complexities of political change in Chiapas includes the impact of neoliberal economic policies, the origins of the Zapatista army of National Liberation (EZLN), and the political impact of the rebellion itself. Engaging with current theoretical debates on the role and significance of social movements in Mexico and Latin America, Harvey focuses on the primacy of political struggle and on the importance of these movements in the construction and meaning of citizenship. While suggesting that the Zapatista revolution has heightened awareness among the people of Chiapas of such democratic issues as ethnicity, gender, and land distribution, he concludes with an analysis of the obstacles to peace in the region today. This unprecedented study of the Zapatista rebellion will provoke discussion among students and scholars of contemporary Mexico, political science, Latin American studies, history, sociology, and anthropology.
Winner of the 1990 Best Book Award from the New England Council on Latin American Studies
This study of Bolivia uses Cochabamba as a laboratory to examine the long-term transformation of native Andean society into a vibrant Quechua-Spanish-mestizo region of haciendas and smallholdings, towns and villages, peasant markets and migratory networks caught in the web of Spanish imperial politics and economics. Combining economic, social, and ethnohistory, Brooke Larson shows how the contradictions of class and colonialism eventually gave rise to new peasant, artisan, and laboring groups that challenged the evolving structures of colonial domination. Originally published in 1988, this expanded edition includes a new final chapter that explores the book’s implications for understanding the formation of a distinctive peasant political culture in the Cochabamba valleys over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Yucatán Peninsula has one of the longest, most multifaceted histories in the Americas. With the arrival of Europeans, native Maya with long and successful cultural and diplomatic traditions of their own had to grapple with outside forces attempting to impose new templates of life and politics on them. Conflict and Carnage in Yucatán provides a rigorously researched study of the vexed and bloody period of 1855 to 1876, during which successive national governments implemented, replaced, and restored liberal policies.
Synthesizing an extensive and heterogeneous range of sources, Douglas W. Richmond covers three tumultuous political upheavals of this period. First, Mexico’s fledgling republic attempted to impose a liberal ideology at odds with traditional Maya culture on Yucatán; then, the French-backed regime of Emperor Maximilian began to reform Yucatán; and, finally, the republican forces of Benito Juárez restored the liberal hegemony. Many issues spurred resistance to these liberal governments. Instillation of free trade policies, the suppression of civil rights, and persecution of the Roman Catholic Church mobilized white opposition to liberal governors. The Mayas fought the seizure of their communal properties. A long-standing desire for regional autonomy united virtually all Yucatecans. Richmond advances the thought-provoking argument that Yucatán both fared better under Maximilian’s Second Empire than under the liberal republic and would have thrived more had the Second Empire not collapsed.
The most violent and bloody manifestation of these broad conflicts was the Caste War (Guerra de Castas), the longest sustained peasant revolt in Latin American history. Where other scholars have advocated the simplistic position that the war was a Maya uprising designed to reestablish a mythical past civilization, Richmond’s sophisticated recounting of political developments from 1855 to 1876 restores nuance and complexity to this pivotal time in Yucatecan history.
Richmond’s Conflict and Carnage in Yucatán is a welcome addition to scholarship about Mexico and Yucatán as well as about state consolidation, empire, and regionalism.
Confronting Historical Paradigms argues that confrontation with major paradigms of world history has marked the fields of African and Latin American history during the last quarter-century, and that the process has dramatically restructured historical and theoretical understanding of peasantries, labor, and the capitalist world system. Moreover, it maintains, the intellectual reverberations within and across the African and Latin American fields constitute a challenging and underappreciated counterpoint to laments that contemporary historical knowledge has suffered a splintering so extreme that it undermines larger dialogue and meaning.
The authors, in their substantive essays, synthesize, order, and evaluate the significance of the enormous resonating literatures that have come to exist for Africa and Latin America on the themes of the capitalist world system, labor, and peasantries. They historicize these literatures by analyzing an entire cycle of critical dialogue and confrontation with historical paradigms and the professional upheavals that accompanied them. They review the initial confrontations with frameworks of historical knowledge that erupted in the 1960s and the early 1970s; the emergence of new “dissident” paradigms; the outpouring of subsequent scholarship on peasants, labor, and capitalism that began to unravel the newly proposed paradigms by the 1980s and 1990s; and the outlines of the new interpretive frameworks that tended to displace both the “traditional” and “early dissident” paradigms. They also suggest possible outlines of a new cycle of “Third World” confrontations with paradigm, anchored in themes such as gender and ethnicity. Confronting Historical Paradigms employs a historicized awareness of intellectual networks, conversations, and history–theory dialogues. The result is a critical analysis and synthetic presentation of substantive advances that have preoccupied scholarship on Africa and Latin America in recent decades and a powerful challenge to notions that “new” fields of history have ended up destroying intellectual coherence and community.
In the early 1970s, a group of Colombian intellectuals led by the pioneering sociologist Orlando Fals Borda created a research-activist collective called La Rosca de Investigación y Acción Social (Circle of Research and Social Action). Combining sociological and historical research with a firm commitment to grassroots social movements, Fals Borda and his colleagues collaborated with indigenous and peasant organizations throughout Colombia. In Cowards Don’t Make History Joanne Rappaport examines the development of participatory action research on the Caribbean coast, highlighting Fals Borda’s rejection of traditional positivist research frameworks in favor of sharing his own authority as a researcher with peasant activists. Fals Borda and his colleagues inserted themselves as researcher-activists into the activities of the National Association of Peasant Users, coordinated research priorities with its leaders, studied the history of peasant struggles, and, in collaboration with peasant researchers, prepared accessible materials for an organizational readership, thereby transforming research into a political organizing tool. Rappaport shows how the fundamental concepts of participatory action research as they were framed by Fals Borda continue to be relevant to engaged social scientists and other researchers in Latin America and beyond.
When Indian communities of Chiapas, Mexico, rose in armed rebellion in 1994, they spoke boldly of values, rights, identities, and expectations. Their language struck a chord for most Mexicans, for it was the cultural legacy of the Revolution of 1910. Of all the accomplishments of the Mexican Revolution, its cultural achievements were among its most important. The Revolution's cultural politics accounts in part for the relative political stability Mexico enjoyed from 1940 through 1993 and underlies much of the discourse accompanying the tumultuous transitions in that country today.
To show the significance of this facet of the Revolution, Mary Kay Vaughan analyzes the educational effort of the state during the 1930s, locating it within the broader sweep of Mexican history to illustrate how the government sought to nationalize and modernize rural society. Vaughan focuses on activities in rural schools, where central state policy makers, teachers, and people of the countryside came together to forge a national culture. She examines the cultural politics of schooling in four rural societies in the states of Sonora and Puebla that are representative of the peasant societies in revolutionary Mexico, and she shows how the state's program of socialist education became an arena for intense negotiations over power, culture, knowledge, rights, and gender practices. The real cultural revolution, Vaughan observes, lay not in the state's efforts at socialist education but in the dialogue between state and society that took place around this program. In the 1930s, rural communities carved out a space to preserve their local identities while the state succeeded in nurturing a multi-ethnic nationalism based on its promise of social justice and development.
Vaughan brings to her analysis a comparative understanding of peasant politics and educational history, extensive interviews, and a detailed examination of national, regional, and local archives to create an evocative and informative study of Mexican politics and society during modern Mexico's formative years. Cultural Politics in Revolution clearly shows that only by expanding the social arena in which culture was constructed and contested can we understand the Mexican Revolution's real achievements.
The End of Peasantry? examines the dramatic recent decline of agriculture in post-Soviet Russia. Historically, Russian farmers have encountered difficulties relating to the sheer abundance of land, the vast distances between population centers, and harsh environmental conditions. More recently, the drastic depopulation of rural spaces, decreases in sown acreage, and overall inefficiency of land usage have resulted in the disruption and spatial fragmentation of the countryside. For many decades, rural migration has been a selective process, resulting in the most enterprising and self-motivated people leaving the rural periphery. The new agricultural operators representing nascent but aggressive Russian agribusiness have difficulty co-opting traditional rural communities afflicted by profound social dysfunction. The contrast between agriculture in proximity to large cities and in their hinterlands is as sharp as ever, and some vacant niches are increasingly occupied by ethnically non-Russian migrants. All of these conditions existed to some degree in pre-Soviet times, but they have been exacerbated since Russia took steps toward a market economy.
Understudied and often underestimated in the West, the crisis facing Russian agriculture has profound implications for the political and economic stability of Russia. The authors see hope in the significant increase in land use intensity on vastly diminished farmland. The lessons gathered from this thoroughly researched study are far-reaching and relevant to the disciplines of Slavic and European studies, agriculture, political science, economics, and human geography.
The rural labor movement played a surprisingly active role in Brazil’s transition to democracy in the 1980s. While in most Latin American countries rural labor was conspicuously marginal, in Brazil, an expanded, secularized, and centralized movement organized strikes, staged demonstrations for land reform, demanded political liberalization, and criticized the government’s environmental policies.
In this ground-breaking book, Anthony W. Pereira explains this transition as the result of two intertwined processes - the modernization of agricultural production and the expansion of the welfare state into the countryside - and explores the political consequences of these processes, occurring not only in Latin America but in much of the Third World.
The Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In Fate and Honor, Family and Village, Rudolph Bell argues against the characterizationmore by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture mroe accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant life: fortuna (fate), onore (honor, dignity), famiglia (family), and campanilismo (village).
Fortuna is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the world view from which all social life flows. The concept of fortuna does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies.
Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a postmodern world.
In May 1829, strange reports surfaced from the Ariège department in the French Pyrenees, describing male peasants, bizarrely dressed in women’s clothes, gathering in the forests at night to chase away state guards and charcoal-makers. This was the raucous War of the Demoiselles, a protest against the national French Forest Code of 1827, which restricted peasants’ rights to use state and private forests.
Peter Sahlins unravels the fascinating story of this celebrated popular uprising, and in his telling captures the cultural, historical, and political currents that swept the countryside during France’s July 1830 Revolution. Sahlins explains how and why the Ariège peasants drew on the practices and rituals of folk culture, as well as on a revolutionary tradition, to defend their inherited rights to the forest. To explore these rights and their expression, he delves into the history of forest management, of peasant conflicts with the state, and of popular culture—particularly the disputed history of Carnival and of local rituals of justice.
Sahlins also sheds new light on the French revolutionary tradition and the “Three Glorious Days” of July 1830. The drama and symbolism of the War of the Demoiselles have inspired nearly a dozen plays, novels, films, and even a comic book. Using the concepts of anthropology and cultural studies as transport, Sahlins moves from this rich event to the wider worlds of peasant society in France. Focusing on the years from 1829 to 1832 but drawing on sources since the sixteenth century, his book should captivate social, cultural, and political historians of both early modern and modern Europe.
Guerrilla Auditors is an ethnographic account of the rise of information, transparency, and good governance in the post–Cold War era, and the effects of these concepts on Paraguay’s transition to democracy. Kregg Hetherington shows that the ideal of transparent information, meant to depoliticize bureaucratic procedures, has become a battleground for a new kind of politics centered on legal interpretation and the manipulation of official documents. In late-twentieth-century Paraguay, peasant land politics moved unexpectedly from the roads and fields into the documentary recesses of state bureaucracy. When peasants, bureaucrats, and development experts encountered one another in state archives, conflicts ensued about how bureaucracy ought to function, what documents are for, and who gets to narrate the past and the future of the nation. Hetherington argues that Paraguay’s neoliberal democracy is predicated, at least in part, on an exclusionary distinction between model citizens and peasants. Despite this, peasant activists have found ways to circumvent their exclusion and in so doing question the conceptual foundations of international development orthodoxy.
Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State brings together new research on the social history of Central America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Aviva Chomsky and Aldo A. Lauria Santiago have gathered both well-known and emerging scholars to demonstrate how the actions and ideas of rural workers, peasants, migrants, and women formed an integral part of the growth of the export economies of the era and to examine the underacknowledged impact such groups had on the shaping of national histories. Responding to the fact that the more common, elite-centered “national” histories distort or erase the importance of gender, race, ethnicity, popular consciousness, and identity, contributors to this volume correct this imbalance by moving these previously overlooked issues to the center of historical research and analysis. In so doing, they describe how these marginalized working peoples of the Hispanic Caribbean Basin managed to remain centered on not only class-based issues but on a sense of community, a desire for dignity, and a struggle for access to resources. Individual essays include discussions of plantation justice in Guatemala, highland Indians in Nicaragua, the effects of foreign corporations in Costa Rica, coffee production in El Salvador, banana workers in Honduras, sexuality and working-class feminism in Puerto Rico, the Cuban sugar industry, agrarian reform in the Dominican Republic, and finally, potential directions for future research and historiography on Central America and the Caribbean. This collection will have a wide audience among Caribbeanists and Central Americanists, as well as students of gender studies, and labor, social, Latin American, and agrarian history.
Contributors. Patricia Alvarenga, Barry Carr, Julie A. Charlip, Aviva Chomsky, Dario Euraque, Eileen Findlay, Cindy Forster, Jeffrey L. Gould, Lowell Gudmundson, Aldo A. Lauria Santiago, Francisco Scarano, Richard Turits
Winner of the 2001 President’s Award of the Social Science History Association
In the Shadows of State and Capital tells the story of how Ecuadorian peasants gained, and then lost, control of the banana industry. Providing an ethnographic history of the emergence of subcontracting within Latin American agriculture and of the central role played by class conflict in this process, Steve Striffler looks at the quintessential form of twentieth-century U.S. imperialism in the region—the banana industry and, in particular, the United Fruit Company (Chiquita). He argues that, even within this highly stratified industry, popular struggle has contributed greatly to processes of capitalist transformation and historical change. Striffler traces the entrance of United Fruit into Ecuador during the 1930s, its worker-induced departure in the 1960s, the troubled process through which contract farming emerged during the last half of the twentieth century, and the continuing struggles of those involved. To explore the influence of both peasant activism and state power on the withdrawal of multinational corporations from banana production, Striffler draws on state and popular archives, United Fruit documents, and extensive oral testimony from workers, peasants, political activists, plantation owners, United Fruit administrators, and state bureaucrats. Through an innovative melding of history and anthropology, he demonstrates that, although peasant-workers helped dismantle the foreign-owned plantation, they were unable to determine the broad contours through which the subsequent system of production—contract farming—emerged and transformed agrarian landscapes throughout Latin America. By revealing the banana industry’s impact on processes of state formation in Latin America, In the Shadows of State and Capital will interest historians, anthropologists, and political scientists, as well as scholars of globalization and agrarian studies.
Following the largest peasant revolution in history, Russia's urban-based Bolshevik regime was faced with a monumental task: to peacefully “modernize” and eventually “socialize” the peasants in the countryside surrounding Russia's cities. To accomplish this, the Bolshevik leadership created the People's Commissariat of Agriculture (Narkomzem), which would eventually employ 70,000 workers. This commissariat was particularly important, both because of massive famine and because peasants composed the majority of Russia's population; it was also regarded as one of the most moderate state agencies because of its nonviolent approach to rural transformation.
Working from recently opened historical archives, James Heinzen presents a balanced, thorough examination of the political, social, and cultural dilemmas present in the Bolsheviks' strategy for modernizing of the peasantry. He especially focuses on the state employees charged with no less than a complete transformation of an entire class of people. Heinzen ultimately shows how disputes among those involved in this plan-from the government, to Communist leaders, to the peasants themselves-led to the shuttering of the Commissariat of Agriculture and to Stalin's cataclysmic 1929 collectivization of agriculture.
"The strength of this volume cannot be conveyed by an itemisation of its contents; for what it provides is an incisive commentary on the newly-recognised landmarks of Irish agrarian history in the modern period. . . . The importance, even indispensability, of this achievement is compounded by exemplary editing."—Roy Foster, London Times Literary Supplement
"As a whole, the volume demonstrates the wealth, complexity, and sophistication of Irish rural studies. The book is essential reading for anyone involved in modern Irish history. It will also serve as an excellent introduction to this rich field for scholars of other peasant communities and all interested in problems of economic and political developments."—American Historical Review
"A milestone in the evolution of Irish social history. There is a remarkable consistency of style and standard in the essays. . . . This is truly history from the grassroots."—Timothy P. O'Neill, Studia Hibernica
The Colombian activist Juan Gregorio Palechor (1923–1992) dedicated his life to championing indigenous rights in Cauca, a department in the southwest of Colombia, where he helped found the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca. Recounting his life story in collaboration with the Colombian anthropologist Myriam Jimeno, Palechor traces his political awakening, his experiences in national politics, the disillusionment that resulted, and his turn to a more radical activism aimed at confronting ethnic discrimination and fighting for indigenous territorial and political sovereignty.
Palechor's lively memoir is complemented by Jimeno's reflections on autobiography as an anthropological tool and on the oppressive social and political conditions faced by Colombia's indigenous peoples. A faithful and fluent transcription of Palechor's life story, this work is a uniquely valuable resource for understanding the contemporary indigenous rights movements in Colombia.
Agrarian reforms transformed the Mexican countryside in the late twentieth century but without, in many cases, altering fundamental power relationships. This study of the Tehuacán Valley in the state of Puebla highlights different strategies to manipulate the local implementation of federal government programs. With their very differing successes in the struggle to regain and maintain control of land and water rights, these strategies raise important questions about the meaning of the phrase "locally controlled development."
Because Mexico is dependent on irrigation for 45 percent of its cash crop production, national policy has focused on developing vast government controlled and financed irrigation systems. In the Tehuacán Valley, however, the inhabitants have developed a complex irrigation system without government aid or supervision. Yet, in contrast to most parts of Mexico, water rights can be bought and sold as a commodity, leading to accumulation, stratification, and emergence of a regional elite whose power is based on ownership of land and water. The analysis provides an important contribution to the understanding of local control.
The findings of this study will be important to a wide audience involved in the study of irrigation, local agricultural systems, and the interplay between local power structures and the national government in developing countries. The book also presents unique material on gravity-fed, horizontal wells, known as qanat in the Middle East, which had been unknown in the literature on Latin America before this book.
Over the past two decades, Zapatista indigenous community members have asserted their autonomy and self-determination by using everyday practices as part of their struggle for lekil kuxlejal, a dignified collective life connected to a specific territory. This in-depth ethnography summarizes Mariana Mora’s more than ten years of extended research and solidarity work in Chiapas, with Tseltal and Tojolabal community members helping to design and evaluate her fieldwork. The result of that collaboration—a work of activist anthropology—reveals how Zapatista kuxlejal (or life) politics unsettle key racialized effects of the Mexican neoliberal state.
Through detailed narratives, thick descriptions, and testimonies, Kuxlejal Politics focuses on central spheres of Zapatista indigenous autonomy, particularly governing practices, agrarian reform, women’s collective work, and the implementation of justice, as well as health and education projects. Mora situates the proposals, possibilities, and challenges associated with these decolonializing cultural politics in relation to the racialized restructuring that has characterized the Mexican state over the past twenty years. She demonstrates how, despite official multicultural policies designed to offset the historical exclusion of indigenous people, the Mexican state actually refueled racialized subordination through ostensibly color-blind policies, including neoliberal land reform and poverty alleviation programs. Mora’s findings allow her to critically analyze the deeply complex and often contradictory ways in which the Zapatistas have reconceptualized the political and contested the ordering of Mexican society along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, and class.
In the two-decade period from 1928 to 1948, the proletarian themes and issues underlying the Chinese Communist Party’s ideological utterances were shrouded in rhetoric designed, perhaps, as much to disguise as to chart actual class strategies. Rhetoric notwithstanding, a careful analysis of such pronouncements is vitally important in following and evaluating the party’s changing lines during this key revolutionary period. The function of the “proletariat” in the complex of policy issues and leadership struggles which developed under the precarious circumstances of those years had an importance out of all proportion to labor’s relatively minor role in the post-1927 Communist led revolution. [1, 2]
In the modern imagination the peasant survives as a creature of the land, suspicious of the outside world and resistant to change, either the repository of pristine innocence and virtue or the manifestation of everything nasty, brutish, and at best dull. The Land and the Loom replaces this picture with a richly textured, deeply researched portrait of the peasant's life and world in northern France in the early modern period. Drawing on evidence culled from parish registers, notarial records, and judicial archives, Liana Vardi outlines the development of the linen weaving trade in Montigny and details the local peasants' participation. The peasants that emerge from her study are not the figures of tradition, driven solely by symbolic attachment to the land and unreasonably devoted to village solidarities. Instead they reveal remarkable flexibility and diversity, not only improving farming methods and raising yields during the eighteenth century, but also using land to finance investments in industry and to develop local business, far-flung commercial networks and complex credit mechanisms. The eighteenth-century French countryside appears as a region and time of capitalist experimentation, cut short by pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary crises. Meticulously documented, broadly interpretive, and beautifully written, this fascinating book will permenantly alter conventional perceptions of peasant life and rural industry and, ultimately, the way ordinary people are seen in seemingly distant times and places.
Owing to Yucatan’s relative isolation, many assume that the history and economy of the peninsula have evolved in a distinctive way, apart from the central government in Mexico City and insulated from world social and economic factors. The essays in this volume suggest that this has not been the case: the process of development in Yucatan has been linked firmly to national and global forces of change over the past two centuries. The essays are by U.S., Mexican, Canadian, and Belizean social scientists representing both well-established and younger scholars. The result is a perspective on Yucatan’s historical development that is at once international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational.
In this volume, all of the contributors are genuinely comfortable with the theories and approaches of several disciplines—economics, history, and anthropology, and sociology. All have used largely untapped, primary, archival sources, and the result is a fascinating offering of new information.
This well-documented study discusses the social and economic changes in Shandong province before the influence of the West was felt at the end of the nineteenth century. The authors show that by the sixteenth century, commercial and handicraft towns linked to national and local markets had already begun to emerge. Urban growth was made possible by increased agricultural production, which in turn stimulated specialization and increased commercialization in the agricultural sector. Another important change in rural society at this time was the emergence of a new stratum of wealthy landlords who managed their estates with wage labor. Case studies of managerial landlords, who form the main focus of this study, are included as well as generalizations drawn from questionnaire materials.
Luo Lun and Jing Su wrote this book while they were young researchers at Shandong University in the late 1950s, using data they had gathered in the culturally relaxed period of the Hundred Flowers. In his introduction, Endymion Wilkinson analyzes the authors' thesis and concludes that their Leninist model is inapplicable to premodern Chinese history. The value of this study lies not so much in its conclusion that even without the impact of Western imperialism China would of itself have developed a capitalist society, but rather in the wealth of data the authors present, in this first in-depth study of a relatively advanced region in north China.
In Myths of Modernity, Elizabeth Dore rethinks Nicaragua’s transition to capitalism. Arguing against the idea that the country’s capitalist transformation was ushered in by the coffee boom that extended from 1870 to 1930, she maintains that coffee growing gave rise to systems of landowning and labor exploitation that impeded rather than promoted capitalist development. Dore places gender at the forefront of her analysis, which demonstrates that patriarchy was the organizing principle of the coffee economy’s debt-peonage system until the 1950s. She examines the gendered dynamics of daily life in Diriomo, a township in Nicaragua’s Granada region, tracing the history of the town’s Indian community from its inception in the colonial era to its demise in the early twentieth century.
Dore seamlessly combines archival research, oral history, and an innovative theoretical approach that unites political economy with social history. She recovers the bygone voices of peons, planters, and local officials within documents such as labor contracts, court records, and official correspondence. She juxtaposes these historical perspectives with those of contemporary peasants, landowners, activists, and politicians who share memories passed down to the present. The reconceptualization of the coffee economy that Dore elaborates has far-reaching implications. The Sandinistas mistakenly believed, she contends, that Nicaraguan capitalism was mature and ripe for socialist revolution, and after their victory in 1979 that belief led them to alienate many peasants by ignoring their demands for land. Thus, the Sandinistas’ myths of modernity contributed to their downfall.
Organized in the mid-1970s as a means of communal protection against livestock rustling and general thievery in Peru’s rugged northern mountains, the rondas campesinas (peasants who make the rounds) grew into an entire system of peasant justice and one of the most significant Andean social movements of the late twentieth century. Nightwatch is the first full-length ethnography and the only study in English to examine this grassroots agrarian social movement, which became a rallying point for rural pride. Drawing on fieldwork conducted over the course of a decade, Orin Starn chronicles the historical conditions that led to the formation of the rondas, the social and geographical expansion of the movement, and its gradual decline in the 1990s. Throughout this anecdotal yet deeply analytical account, the author relies on interviews with ronda participants, villagers, and Peru’s regional and national leaders to explore the role of women, the involvement of nongovernmental organizations, and struggles for leadership within the rondas. Starn moves easily from global to local contexts and from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, presenting this movement in a straightforward manner that makes it accessible to both specialists and nonspecialists. An engagingly written story of village mobilization, Nightwatch is also a meditation on the nature of fieldwork, the representation of subaltern people, the relationship between resistance and power, and what it means to be politically active at the end of the century. It will appeal widely to scholars and students of anthropology, Latin American studies, cultural studies, history, subaltern studies, and those interested in the politics of social movements.
Partners in Conflict examines the importance of sexuality and gender to rural labor and agrarian politics during the last days of Chile’s latifundia system of traditional landed estates and throughout the governments of Eduardo Frei and Salvador Allende. Heidi Tinsman analyzes differences between men’s and women’s participation in Chile’s Agrarian Reform movement and considers how conflicts over gender and sexuality shape the contours of working-class struggles and national politics. Tinsman restores women to a scholarly narrative that has been almost exclusively about men, recounting the centrality of women’s labor to the pre-Agrarian Reform world of the hacienda during the 1950s and recovering women’s critical roles in union struggles and land occupations during the Agrarian Reform itself. Providing a theoretical framework for understanding why the Agrarian Reform ultimately empowered men more than women, Tinsman argues that women were marginalized not because the Agrarian Reform ignored women but because, under both the Frei and Allende governments, it promoted the male-headed household as the cornerstone of a new society. Although this emphasis on gender cooperation stressed that men should have more respect for their wives and funneled unprecedented amounts of resources into women’s hands, the reform defined men as its protagonists and affirmed their authority over women. This is the first monographic social history of Chile’s Agrarian Reform in either English or Spanish, and the first historical work to make sexuality and gender central to the analysis of the reforms.
This book brings together the research into regional development and social change carried out in highland Peru by a team of British and Latin American social anthropologists and sociologists. The area studied—the Mantaro Valley of central Peru—is one of the most densely populated and economically differentiated of highland zones; it is also notable for its community-based forms of cooperation and its high level of peasant political activity. The book presents a series of case studies that examine cooperative forms of organization in relation to developments in the regional economy and to changes in national policy. The analysis attempts to avoid interpreting local processes merely as responses to externally initiated change. It stresses instead the need to consider the interplay of local and national forces, because local groups and processes themselves affect the pattern of regional and national development. The case studies cover a range of political and economic topics, from peasant movements to the achievements and shortcomings of government-sponsored agricultural and manufacturing cooperatives. The concluding chapter, by the editors, explores the theoretical implications of these studies.
Scholars who study peasant society now realize that peasants are not passive, but quite capable of acting in their own interests. But, do coherent political ideas emerge within peasant society or do peasants act in a world where elites define political issues? Peasant Intellectuals is based on ethnographic research begun in 1966 and includes interviews with hundreds of people from all levels of Tanzanian society. Steven Feierman provides the history of the struggles to define the most basic issues of public political discourse in the Shambaa-speaking region of Tanzania. Feierman also shows that peasant society contains a rich body of alternative sources of political language from which future debates will be shaped.
Stephen Bunker challenges the image of peasants as passive victims and argues that coffee growers in the Bugisu District of Uganda, because they own land and may choose which crops to produce, maintain an unusual degree of economic and political independence.
Focusing on peasant struggles for market control over coffee exports in Bugisu from colonial times through the reign and overthrow of Idi Amin, Bunker shows that these freeholding peasants acted collectively and used the state's dependence on coffee export revenues to effectively influence and veto government programs inimical to their interests.
Bunker's work vividly portrays the small victories and great trials of ordinary people struggling to control their own economic destiny while resisting the power of the world economy.
Drawing on testimonies from contra collaborators and ex-combatants, as well as pro-Sandinista peasants, this book presents a dynamic account of the growing divisions between peasants from the area of Quilalí who took up arms in defense of revolutionary programs and ideals such as land reform and equality and those who opposed the FSLN.
Peasants in Arms details the role of local elites in organizing the first anti-Sandinista uprising in 1980 and their subsequent rise to positions of field command in the contras. Lynn Horton explores the internal factors that led a majority of peasants to turn against the revolution and the ways in which the military draft, and family and community pressures reinforced conflict and undermined mid-decade FSLN policy shifts that attempted to win back peasant support.
Based on extended interviews at the Culiprán fundo in Chile with peasants who recount in their own terms their political evolution, this is an in-depth study of peasants in social and political action. It deals with two basic themes: first, the authoritarian structure within a traditional latifundio and its eventual replacement by a peasant-based elected committee, and second, the events shaping the emergence of political consciousness among the peasantry. Petras and Zemelman Merino trace the careers of local peasant leaders, followers, and opponents of the violent illegal land seizure in 1965 and the events that triggered the particular action. The findings of this study challenge the oft-accepted assumption that peasants represent a passive, traditional, downtrodden group capable only of following urban-based elites. The peasant militants, while differing considerably in their ability to grasp complex political and social problems, show a great deal of political skill, calculate rationally on the possibility of success, and select and manipulate political allies on the basis of their own primary needs. The politicized peasantry lend their allegiance to those forces with whom they anticipate they have the most to gain—and under circumstances that minimize social costs. The authors identify the highly repressive political culture within the latifundio—reinforced by the national political system—as the key factor inhibiting overt expressions of political demands. The emergence of revolutionary political consciousness is found to be the result of cumulative experiences and the breakdown of traditional institutions of control. The violent illegal seizure of the farm is perceived by the peasantry as a legitimate act based on self-interest as well as general principles of justice—in other words, the seizure is perceived as a “natural act,” suggesting that perhaps two sets of moralities functioned within the traditional system. The book is divided into two parts: the first part contains a detailed analysis of peasant behavior; the second contains transcriptions of peasant interviews. Combined, they give the texture and flavor of insurgent peasant politics.
After the 1854 abolition of slavery in Peru, a new generation of plantation owners turned to a system of peasant tenantry to maintain cotton production through the use of cheap labor. In Peasants on Plantations Vincent C. Peloso analyzes the changing social and economic relationships governing the production of cotton in the Pisco Valley, a little-studied area of Peru’s south coast. Challenging widely held assumptions about the system of relations that tied peasants to the land, Peloso’s work examines the interdependence of the planters, managers, and peasants—and the various strategies used by peasants in their struggle to resist control by the owners.
Grounded in the theoretical perspectives of subaltern studies and drawing on an extremely complete archive of landed estates that includes detailed regular reports by plantation managers on all aspects of farming life, Peasants on Plantations reveals the intricate ways peasants, managers, and owners manipulated each other to benefit their own interests. As Peloso demonstrates, rather than a simple case of domination of the peasants by the owners, both parties realized that negotiation was the key to successful growth, often with the result that peasants cooperated with plantation growth strategies in order to participate in a market economy. Long-term contracts gave tenants and sharecroppers many opportunities to make farming choices, to assert claims on the land, compete among themselves, and participate in plantation expansion. At the same time, owners strove to keep the peasants in debt and well aware of who maintained ultimate control.
Peasants on Plantations offers a largely untold view of the monumental struggle between planters and peasants that was fundamental in shaping the agrarian history of Peru. It will interest those engaged in Latin American studies, anthropology, and peasant and agrarian studies.
Throughout Latin America and the rest of the Third World, profound social problems are growing in response to burgeoning populations and unstable economic and political systems. In Peru, terrorist acts by the Shining Path guerilla movement are the most visible manifestation of social discontent, but rapid economic and religious changes have touched the lives of almost everyone, radically altering traditional lifeways. In this twenty-year study of the community of Quinua in the Department of Ayacucho, William Mitchell looks at changes provoked by population growth within a severely limited ecological and economic setting, including increasing conversion to a cash economy and out-migration, the decline of the Catholic fiesta system and the rise of Protestantism, and growing poverty and revolution.
When Mitchell first began his field studies in Quinua in 1966, farming was still the Quinueños' principal means of livelihood. But while the population was increasing rapidly, the amount of arable land in the community remained the same, creating increased food shortfalls. At the same time, government controls on food prices and subsidies of cheap food imports drove down the value of rural farm production. These ecological and economic factors forced many people to enter the nonfarm economy to feed themselves.
Using a materialist approach, Mitchell charts the new economic strategies that Quinueños use to confront the harsh pressures of their lives, including ceramic production, wage labor, petty commerce, and migration to cash work on the coat and in the eastern tropical forests. In addition, he shows how the growing conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism is also an economic strategy, since Protestant ideology offers acceptable reasons for redirecting the money that used to be spent on elaborate religious festivals to household needs and education.
The twenty-year span of this study makes it especially valuable for students of social change. Mitchell's unique, interdisciplinary approach, considering ecological, economic, and population factors simultaneously, offers a model that can be widely applied in many Third World areas. Additionally, the inclusion of an entire chapter of family histories reveals how economic and ecological forces are played out at the individual level.
Peasants, Power, and Place is the first English-language book to focus on Ukrainian-speaking peasants during the revolutionary period from 1914 to 1921. In contrast to the many studies written from the perspectives of the Ukrainian national movement’s leaders or the Bolsheviks or urban workers, this book portrays this period of war, revolution, and civil war from the viewpoints of the villagers—the overwhelming majority of the population of what became Ukraine. Utilizing previously unavailable archival documents, Mark R. Baker opens a unique and neglected window into the tumultuous events of those years in Ukraine and across the crumbling Russian Empire. One of Baker’s key arguments is that the peasants of Kharkiv province thought of themselves primarily as members of their particular village communities, and not as members of any nation or class—ideas to which peasants were only then being introduced. Thus this study helps to move the historiography beyond the narrow and ideologized categories created during the Cold War and still employed today. Readers will gain a broader understanding of the ways in which the majority of the population experienced these crucial years in Ukraine’s history.
In Peasants, Warriors, and Wives, Keith Moxey examines woodcut images from the German Reformation that have often been ignored as a crude and inferior form of artistic production. In this richly illustrated study, Moxey argues that while they may not satisfy received notions of "art," they nevertheless constitute an important dimension of the visual culture of the period. Far from being manifestations of universal public opinion, as a cursory acquaintance with their subject matter might suggest, such prints were the means by which the reformed attitudes of the middle and upper classes were disseminated to a broad popular audience.
Focusing on the immigrant family, this new, abridged edition of the classic The Polish Peasant in Europe and America brings together documents and commentary that will be valuable in teaching United States history survey courses as well as immigration history and introductory sociology courses. It includes a new introduction and epilogue.
In Popular Movements and State Formation in Revolutionary Mexico Jennie Purnell reconsiders peasant partisanship in the cristiada of 1926–29, one episode in the broader Mexican Revolution and the last major popular rebellion in Mexican history. While some scholars have argued that the Mexican Revolution was a people’s rebellion that aimed to destroy the political and economic power of the elites to the benefit of the peasants, others claim that the Revolution was a struggle between elites that left little room for popular participation. Neither approach, however, explains why thousands of peasants sided with the Church against the state and its program of agrarian reform—reform that was presumably in the best interest of the peasants. Nor do they explain why so many peasants who considered themselves devout Catholics took up arms against the Church. Rather than viewing the cristeros (supporters of the Church) as victims of false consciousness or as religious fanatics, as others have done, Purnell shows that their motivations—as well as the motivations of the agraristas (supporters of the revolutionary state)—stem from local political conflicts that began decades, and sometimes centuries, before the Revolution. Drawing on rich but underutilized correspondence between peasants and state officials written over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Purnell shows how these conflicts shaped the relationships between property rights, religious practice, and political authority in the center-west region of Mexico and provides a nuanced understanding of the stakes and interests involved in subsequent conflicts over Mexican anticlericalism and agrarian reform in the 1920s.
Leonard Friesen presents a study of the transformation of New Russia--the region north of the Black and Azov seas--from its conquest by the Russian Empire in the late eighteenth century to the revolutionary tumult of 1905. Friesen is particularly interested in the dynamic and multifaceted relations between the region's peasants, European colonists, and Russian estate owners. He gives special attention to the settlement process whereby once free peasants were enserfed within a generation, as well as the period of servile emancipation after 1861, when the paths of the region's agriculturalists converged in unexpected ways. Overall, Friesen sees the region as vital to an understanding of the empire as a whole. He demonstrates how peasants, nobles, and estate owners were key actors in a series of rural revolutions that eventually threatened the empire itself.
This book contributes to our understanding of Imperial Russia, as well as contemporary Ukraine, by describing and analyzing rural developmental patterns over time. It explores how, when, and why agriculturalists made adjustments to long-established agrarian and social practices, and provides a fresh perspective on the link between the end of empire and the rural developments that preceded it.
This masterful social and economic history of rural Zaire examines the complex and lasting effects of forced cotton cultivation in central Africa from 1917 to 1960. Osumaka Likaka recreates daily life inside the colonial cotton regime. He shows that, to ensure widespread cotton production and to overcome continued peasant resistance, the colonial state and the cotton companies found it necessary to augment their use of threats and force with efforts to win the cooperation of the peasant farmers, through structural reforms, economic incentives, and propaganda exploiting African popular culture.
As local plots of food crops grown by individual households gave way to commercial fields of cotton, a whole host of social, economic, and environmental changes followed. Likaka reveals how food shortages and competition for labor were endemic, forests were cleared, social stratification increased, married women lost their traditional control of agricultural production, and communities became impoverished while local chiefs enlarged their power and prosperity.
Likaka documents how the cotton regime promoted its cause through agricultural exhibits, cotton festivals, films, and plays, as well as by raising producer prices and decreasing tax rates. He also shows how the peasant laborers in turn resisted regimented agricultural production by migrating, fleeing the farms for the bush, or sabotaging plantings by surreptitiously boiling cotton seeds. Small farmers who had received appallingly low prices from the cotton companies resisted by stealing back their cotton by night from the warehouses, to resell it in the morning. Likaka draws on interviews with more than fifty informants in Zaire and Belgium and reviews an impressive array of archival materials, from court records to comic books. In uncovering the tumultuous economic and social consequences of the cotton regime and by emphasizing its effects on social institutions, Likaka enriches historical understanding of African agriculture and development.
In Semiotics of Peasants in Transition Irene Portis-Winner examines the complexities of ethnic identity in a traditional Slovene village with unique ties to an American city. At once an investigation into a particular anthropological situation and a theoretical exploration of the semiotics of ethnic culture—in this case a culture permeated by transnational influences—Semiotics of Peasants in Transition describes the complex relationships that have existed between and among the villagers remaining in Slovenia and those who, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio. Describing a process of continuous and enduring interaction between these geographically separate communities, Portis-Winner explains how, for instance, financial assistance from the emigrants enabled their Slovenian hometown to survive the economic depressions of the 1890s and 1930s. She also analyzes the extent to which memories, rituals, myths, and traditional activities from Slovenia have sustained their Cleveland relatives. The result is a unique anthropological investigation into the signifying practices of a strongly cohesive—yet geographically split—ethnic group, as well as an illuminating application of semiotic analyses to communities and the complex problems they face.
Shining and Other Paths offers the first systematic account of the social experiences at the heart of the war waged between Shining Path and the Peruvian military during the 1980s and early 1990s. Confronting and untangling the many myths and enigmas that surround the war and the wider history of twentieth-century Peru, this book presents clear and often poignant analyses of the brutal reshaping of life and politics during a war that cost tens of thousands of lives.
The contributors—a team of Peruvian and U.S. historians, social scientists, and human rights activists—explore the origins, social dynamics, and long-term consequences of the effort by Shining Path to effect an armed communist revolution. The book begins by interpreting Shining Path’s emergence and decision for war as one logical culmination, among several competing culminations, of trends in oppositional politics and social movements. It then traces the experiences of peasants and refugees to demonstrate how human struggle and resilience came together in grassroots determination to defeat Shining Path, and explores the unsuccessful efforts of urban shantytown dwellers, as well as rural and urban activists, to build a “third path” to social justice. Integral to this discussion is an examination of women’s activism and consciousness during the years of the crisis. Finally, this book analyzes the often paradoxical and unintended legacies of this tumultuous period for social and human rights movements, and for presidential and military leadership in Peru.
Extensive field research, broad historical vision, and strong editorial coordination enable the authors to write a coherent and deeply humanistic account, one that draws out the inner tragedies, ambiguities, and conflicts of the war.
Providing historically grounded explication of the conflicts that reshaped contemporary Peru, Shining and Other Paths will be widely read by Latin Americanists, historians, anthropologists, gender theorists, sociologists, political scientists, and human rights activists.
Contributors. Jo-Marie Burt, Marisol de la Cadena, Isabel Coral Cordero, Carlos Iván Degregori, Iván Hinojosa, Carlos Basombrío Iglesias, Florencia E. Mallon, Nelson Manrique, Hortensia Muñoz, Enrique Obando, Patricia Oliart, Ponciano del Pino H., José Luis Rénique, Orin Starn, Steve J. Stern
Once preoccupied with Brazilian slavery as an economic system, historians shifted their attention to examine the nature of life and community among enslaved people. Stuart B. Schwartz looks at this change while explaining why historians must continue to place their ethnographic approach in the context of enslavement as an oppressive social and economic system. Schwartz demonstrates the complexity of the system by reconsidering work, resistance, kinship, and relations between enslaved persons and peasants. As he shows, enslaved people played a role in shaping not only their lives but Brazil’s institutionalized system of slavery by using their own actions and attitudes to place limits on slaveholders.
A bold analysis of changing ideas in the field, Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels provides insights on how the shifting power relationship between enslaved people and slaveholders reshaped the contours of Brazilian society.
In 2011, an Ecuadorian court issued the world’s largest environmental contamination liability: a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron. Within years, a US federal court and an international tribunal determined that the Ecuadorian judgment had been procured through fraud and was unenforceable. In The Small Matter of Suing Chevron Suzana Sawyer delves into this legal trilogy to explore how distinct legal truths were relationally composed of, with, and through crude oil. In Sawyer’s analysis, chemistry proves crucial. Analytically, it affords a grammar for appreciating how molecular, technical, and legal agencies catalyzed distinct jurisdictional renderings. Empirically, the chemistry of hydrocarbons (its complexity, unfathomability, and misattribution) significantly shaped competing judicial determinations. Ultimately, chemical, scientific, contractual, and litigating techniques precipitated this legal saga’s metamorphic transformation, transmuting a contamination claim into an environmental liability, then a racketeering scheme, and then a breach of treaty. Holding the paradoxes of complicity in suspension, Sawyer deftly demonstrates how crude matters, technoscience, and liberal legality configure how risk and reward, deprivation and disavowal, suffering and surfeit become legally and unevenly distributed.
What happens to a revolutionary town after the revolution? This apparently simple question frames Spent Cartridges of Revolution, an anthropological history of Namiquipa, Chihuahua, Mexico. Officially, the revolution of 1910-20 restored control over land and local politics to the peasantry. But Namiquipan peasants, who fought alongside Pancho Villa, have seen little progress and consider themselves mere "spent cartridges" of a struggle that benefited other classes.
Daniel Nugent's approach combines an emphasis on peasants' own perceptions of Mexican society after the revolution with an analysis of the organization and formation of state power. He shows that popular discontent in Chihuahua is motivated not only by immediate economic crises but by two centuries of struggle between the people of Northern Mexico and the government.
Food sovereignty—or the right of a people to operate and control their own food and agricultural systems—has all but disappeared throughout much of the world, usurped by multinational corporations engaging in industrialized farming and global trade. The Struggle for Food Sovereignty examines the prospects and struggles of family farms, peasants, and others in the fight for control over local sustenance and rights of access to land and food. The authors examine the issues in both the global north and south, finding a common vision even amid apparently radically differing political and economic conditions.
The key to democratization lies within the experience of the popular movements. Those who engaged in the popular struggle in Guatemala have a deep understanding of substantive democratic behavior, and the experience of Guatemala’s civil society should be the cornerstone for building a meaningful formal democracy.
In Terror in the Countryside Rachel May offers an in-depth examination of the relationship between political violence and civil society. Focusing on Guatemala, Professor May develops a theoretical scheme that calls into question the more conventional understandings of both violence and civil society.
By elaborating a cyclical model of violence, and suggesting a typology of rural (campesino) popular organizations, Terror in the Countryside provides both a history and an analysis of late-twentieth-century violence and of the role of campesino organizations during the worst years of conflict in Guatemala.
This history details the way ideologies, organizational structures, and mobilization strategies evolved in response to the climate of terror, emphasizing the courage and sacrifice of those who worked for justice and human rights.
This book argues that the peace accords can be considered only as a first step to eliminate a violence that has become deeply rooted in the political life of the country.
When a populist movement elected Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister of Thailand in 2001, many of the country’s urban elite dismissed the outcome as just another symptom of rural corruption, a traditional patronage system dominated by local strongmen pressuring their neighbors through political bullying and vote-buying. In Thailand’s Political Peasants, however, Andrew Walker argues that the emergence of an entirely new socioeconomic dynamic has dramatically changed the relations of Thai peasants with the state, making them a political force to be reckoned with. Whereas their ancestors focused on subsistence, this generation of middle-income peasants seeks productive relationships with sources of state power, produces cash crops, and derives additional income through non-agricultural work. In the increasingly decentralized, disaggregated country, rural villagers and farmers have themselves become entrepreneurs and agents of the state at the local level, while the state has changed from an extractor of taxes to a supplier of subsidies and a patron of development projects. Thailand’s Political Peasants provides an original, provocative analysis that encourages an ethnographic rethinking of rural politics in rapidly developing countries. Drawing on six years of fieldwork in Ban Tiam, a rural village in northern Thailand, Walker shows how analyses of peasant politics that focus primarily on rebellion, resistance, and evasion are becoming less useful for understanding emergent forms of political society.
"The time of freedom" was the name that plantation workers—campesinos—gave to Guatemala’s national revolution of 1944–1954. Cindy Forster reveals the critical role played by the poor in organizing and sustaining this period of reform.
Through court records, labor and agrarian ministry archives, and oral histories, Forster demonstrates how labor conflict on the plantations prepared the ground for national reforms that are usually credited to urban politicians. She focuses on two plantation zones that generated exceptional momentum: the coffee belt in the highlands around San Marcos and the United Fruit Company’s banana groves near Tiquisate. Although these regions were unlike in size and complexity, language and race, popular culture and work patterns, both erupted with demands for workers’ rights and economic justice shortly after the fall of Castañeda in 1944.
A welcome balance to the standard "top-down" histories of the revolution, Forster’s sophisticated analysis demonstrates how campesinos changed the course of the urban revolution. By establishing the context of grassroots mobilization, she substantially alters the conventional view of the entire revolution, and particularly the reforms enacted under President Albenz.
Mute in life as in death, peasants of remote history rarely speak to us in their own voices. But Thomas Bisson’s engagement with the records of several hundred twelfth-century people of rural Catalonia enables us to hear these voices. The peasants’ allegations of abuse while in the service of their common lord the Count of Barcelona and his son the King reveal a unique perspective on the meaning of power both by those who felt and feared it, and by those who wielded it. These records—original parchments, dating much earlier than other comparable records of European peasant life—name peasants in profusion and relate some of their stories.
Bisson describes these peasants socially and culturally, showing how their experience figured in a wider crisis of power from the twelfth century. His compassionate history considers demography, naming patterns, gender, occupational identities, and habitats, as well as power, coercion, and complaint, and the moralities of faith, honor, and shame. He concludes with reflections on the historical meanings of violence and suffering.
This rich contribution to medieval social and cultural history and peasant studies suggests important resources and ideas for historians and anthropologists.
In the 1920s, Mexico established rural normales—boarding schools that trained teachers in a new nation-building project. Drawn from campesino ranks and meant to cultivate state allegiance, their graduates would facilitate land distribution, organize civic festivals, and promote hygiene campaigns. In Unintended Lessons of Revolution, Tanalís Padilla traces the history of the rural normales, showing how they became sites of radical politics. As Padilla demonstrates, the popular longings that drove the Mexican Revolution permeated these schools. By the 1930s, ideas about land reform, education for the poor, community leadership, and socialism shaped their institutional logic. Over the coming decades, the tensions between state consolidation and revolutionary justice produced a telling contradiction: the very schools meant to constitute a loyal citizenry became hubs of radicalization against a government that increasingly abandoned its commitment to social justice. Crafting a story of struggle and state repression, Padilla illuminates education's radical possibilities and the nature of political consciousness for youths whose changing identity—from campesinos, to students, to teachers—speaks to Mexico’s twentieth-century transformations.
In Vietnam, the American government vowed to win the "hearts and minds" of the people. On the other side, among those who led and sympathized with the insurgents, the term "people's war" gained a wide currency. Yet while much has been written about those who professed to speak for the Vietnamese population, we know surprisingly little about the everyday life of the peasants who made up the bulk of the country's inhabitants. This book illuminates that subject. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews conducted by the Rand Corporation with informants from My Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, David Hunt brings to light the daily experience of villagers in the midst of war and revolution.The peasants of southern Vietnam were neither onlookers nor mere victims as fighting raged throughout their country. From the "concerted uprising" in 1959–1960 to the Tet Offensive of 1968, the revolutionary movement they created was in fact the driving force within the war. Known as the "Viet Cong" to their adversaries, the rebels called themselves the "Liberation Front." They demanded an end to landlordism and an egalitarian distribution of the means of subsistence as well as a democratization of relations between town and countryside, parents and children, men and women. They hoped the Vietnamese people would achieve a fuller sense of their place in the world and of the power they possessed to fashion their own destinies, without reliance on supernatural forces.In the first half of the book, Hunt analyzes this cultural revolution. As fighting spread and became more destructive, especially after the U.S. escalation in 1965, villagers were driven from their homes, the rural infrastructure collapsed, and customary notions of space and time lost purchase on an increasingly chaotic world. In the second half of the book, Hunt shows how peasants, who earlier had aspired to a kind of revolutionary modernism, now found themselves struggling to survive and to cope with the American intruders who poured into My Tho, and how they managed to regroup and spearhead the Tet Offensive that irrevocably altered the course of the war.
Voices from the Global Margin looks behind the generalities of debates about globalization to explore the personal impact of global forces on the Peruvian poor. In this highly readable ethnography, William Mitchell draws on the narratives of people he has known for forty years, offering deep insight into how they have coped with extreme poverty and rapid population growth—and their creation of new lives and customs in the process. In their own passionate words they describe their struggles to make ends meet, many abandoning rural homes for marginal wages in Lima and the United States. They chronicle their terror during the Shining Path guerrilla war and the government's violent military response. Mitchell's long experience as an anthropologist living with the people he writes about allows him to put the stories in context, helping readers understand the impact of the larger world on individuals and their communities. His book reckons up the human costs of the global economy, urging us to work toward a more just world.
A pioneering examination of the experiences of peasants and peons, or paysanos, in the Buenos Aires province during Juan Manuel de Rosas’s regime (1829–1852), Wandering Paysanos is one of the first studies to consider Argentina’s history from a subalternist perspective. The distinguished Argentine historian Ricardo D. Salvatore situates the paysanos as mobile job seekers within an expanding, competitive economy as he highlights the points of contention between the peasants and the state: questions of military service, patriotism, crime, and punishment. He argues that only through a reconstruction of the different subjectivities of paysanos—as workers, citizens, soldiers, and family members—can a new understanding of postindependence Argentina be achieved.
Drawing extensively on judicial and military records, Salvatore reveals the state’s files on individual prisoners and recruits to be surprisingly full of personal stories directly solicited from paysanos. While consistently attentive to the fragmented and mediated nature of these archival sources, he chronicles how peons and peasants spoke to power figures—judges, police officers, and military chiefs—about issues central to their lives and to the emerging nation. They described their families and their wanderings across the countryside in search of salaried work, memories and impressions of the civil wars, and involvement with the Federalist armies. Their lamentations about unpaid labor, disrespectful government officials, the meaning of poverty, and the dignity of work provide vital insights into the contested nature of the formation of the Argentine Confederation. Wandering Paysanos discloses a complex world until now obscured—that of rural Argentine subalterns confronting the state.
The conflict that ravaged seventeeth-century Europe, as seen in a classic German novel—freshly translated
The Thirty Years War, fought between 1618 and 1648, was a ruthless struggle for political and religious control of central Europe. Engulfing most of present-day Germany, the war claimed at least ten million lives. The lengthy conflict was particularly hard on the general population, as thousands of undisciplined mercenaries serving Sweden, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and various German principalities, robbed, murdered, and pillaged communities; disease spread out of control and starvation became commonplace. In The Warwolf, Hermann Löns's acclaimed historical novel, the tragedy and horrors of war in general, and these times in particular are revealed. The Warwolf, based on the author's careful research, traces the life of Harm Wulf, a land-owning peasant farmer of the northern German heath who realizes after witnessing the murder of neighbours and family at the hands of marauding troops that he has a choice between compromising his morals or succumbing to inevitable torture and death. Despite his desire for peace, Wulf decides to band with his fellow farmers and live like "wolves," fiercely protecting their isolated communities from all intruders. Löns's brilliant portrayal of the two sides faced by any person in a moral crisis—in Harm Wulf's case, whether to kill or be killed—continues to resonate. Originally published in 1910 and still in print in Germany, The Warwolf is available for first time in English.
This book, a condensed translation of the prize- winning Jacqueries et révolution dans la Chine du XXe siècle, focuses on “spontaneous” rural unrest, uninfluenced by revolutionary intellectuals. Yet it raises issues inspired by the perennial concerns of revolutionary leaders, such as peasant “class consciousness” and China’s modernization.
The author shows that the predominant forms of protest were directed not against the landowning class but against agents of the state. Foremost among them, resistance to taxation had little to do with class struggle. By contrast, protest by poor agricultural laborers and heavily indebted households was extremely rare. Other forms of social protest were reactions less to social exploitation than to oppression by local powerholders. Peasant resistance to the late Qing “new policy” reforms did indeed impede China’s modernization. Decades later, peasant efforts to evade conscription, while motivated by abuses and inequities, weakened the anti-Japanese resistance.
The concluding chapter stresses persistent features of rural protest. It suggests that twentieth-century Chinese peasants were less different from seventeenth- or eighteenth-century French peasants than might be imagined and points to continuities between pre- and post-1949 rural protest.