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Disappearing peasants?

On land, rent, and revenue in post-1989 Romania

Cerasela Voiculescu

This article explores the recent transformations of the Romanian peasantry and critically discusses interpretations of these changes as either indicating the persistence or the disappearance of peasants in Romania. It shows that beyond the labels of depeasantization and repeasantization, which are extensively used to describe rural scenarios under socialism and postsocialism, it is important to take analytic account of the more complex social relations between different actors that are developing under the impact of interacting local and global processes. Given the sharp differences between peasants and the new class of agricultural rentiers, as well as the variations within the latter group, the different rent regimes in which peasants negotiate their control over land and subsistence involve complex relationships and statuses. The article concludes by hypothesizing possible ways in which all of these relationships could be transformed in the long run in the new context of the EU agricultural policy and by discussing two possible scenarios for the Romanian rural landscape, namely, those of peripheral and nonperipheral capitalism.

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"When They Came to Take Our Resources"

Mining Conflicts in Peru and Their Complexity

Wendy Coxshall

This article focuses on the debates over the Río Blanco mining project in Piura in northern Peru. Using Tsing's notion of 'friction', I explore the complexity and global connections in this case and show how the actors engaged universal categories to pursue their agendas. I argue that the campaign against Río Blanco is an example of indigenous mobilization in contemporary Peru because the local protestors invoked the global term 'indigenous', although they mobilized as peasants and as ronderos/as (civil defense patrollers). Their decision to campaign as peasants, however, illustrates the continued relevance of class in a contemporary global context. By using their peasant identity strategically in combination with their regional identity and their identity as marginalized peoples, the local population of Piura gained a more powerful voice.

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Caroline Ford

This essay provides an introduction to the articles by Laird Boswell, Stéphane Gerson, and Gilles Pécout in this forum, which is based on a one-day conference held at UCLA in December 2006, several months before the death of Eugen Weber. It gives a brief biographical sketch of Weber's life, the central themes of his scholarly work, and assesses his contribution as an historian to the field of French and modern European history.

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Michael Murphy, Andrew Sant, Peter de Ville and John Haynes

You Made Me A Child MICHAEL MURPHY

Photographs of Shandong Peasant Children Sydney Olympian ANDREW SANT

Old Brave World Revisited: At Southwell PETER DE VILLE

The Pianist Lives By His Hands. His Hands Are Empty JOHN HAYNES

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The meaning of Nandigram

Corporate land invasion, people's power, and the Left in India

Tanika Sarkar and Sumit Chowdhury

This article discusses the events at Nandigram in West Bengal where in 2006-7, a Left Front government collaborated with an Indonesian corporate group to forcibly acquire land from local peasants and construct a Special Economic Zone. The events are placed against the broad processes of accumulation by dispossession through which peasants are losing their land and corporate profits are given priority over food production. The article looks at the working and implications of the policies and the way in which a Communist Party-led government had become complicit with such processes over the last decade. It critically examines the logic that the government offered for the policies: that of the unavoidable necessity of industrialization, demonstrating that industrialization could have been done without fresh and massive land loss and that industries of the new sort do not generate employment or offset the consequences of large scale displacements of peasants. The article's central focus is on the peasant resistance in the face of the brutalities of the party cadres and the police. We explore the meaning of the victory of the peasants at Nandigram against the combined forces of state and corporate power, especially in the context of the present neo-liberal conjuncture.

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Girls’ Work in a Rural Intercultural Setting

Formative Experiences and Identity in Peasant Childhood

Ana Padawer

In this article I explore the meaning of work for girls in rural northeastern Argentina as formative experience that forges their identity as peasants in the contemporary world. Based on ethnographic research conducted from 2008 to the present in rural areas of San Ignacio (Misiones), I examine, from the perspective of regulatory definitions regarding children’s work, the ways in which young girls gradually participate in the social reproduction of families. Girls’ participation in these activities should not be romanticized as part of a socialization process, but, rather, critically considered as formative experience in which class, age, gender, and ethnic distinctions define certain tasks as girls’ peasant skills. Using data from participant observations made on three farms, I show how girls have an active role in the appropriation of knowledge through shared activities with boys, although such learning is overshadowed by the prevailing socio-historic construct of male dominance.

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Susan Carol Rogers

“Peasant Fever That Goes Beyond Corporatism,” “Peasants: Old-Style and Modern.”1 Such headlines led stories in the French press about the August 1999 attack on a MacDonald’s deep in the French hinterlands by a group affiliated with the farmers union Confédération Paysanne. The incident, noted in the American press as a colorful example of Gallic excess, drew weeks of substantial and sympathetic attention from the French press and general public, inspired vocal support from politicians across the political spectrum, and catapulted the group’s leader, José Bové, to the status of national hero. Part of the significance attributed in France to the event, as suggested by the headlines above, lay in claims that this action represented a radical new departure for farm organizations: unlike previous farmer protests—habitually no less symbolically- charged, well-orchestrated, or widely supported—this one, it was frequently said, spoke to issues of concern to society as a whole, not simply to the corporate interests of farmers.

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"A World of Their Own"

Searching for Popular Culture in the French Countryside

Stéphane Gerson

This article revisits the role that the concept of popular culture has played in Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen and in the historiography of France. It delineates the contours of this field of study in the 1970s then traces its evolution, focusing on the nineteenth century. It also assesses Weber's contribution to this body of scholarship and considers future directions of research—and how his book may still prove helpful. The article proposes that, in terms of conceptualization, epistemological stance, and rhetorical voice, Peasants Into Frenchmen adopts two perspectives on popular culture, perspectives that are sometimes compatible but typically at odds. The first revolves around the confident discovery of a fixed traditional civilization in the French countryside; the second is a more conjectural search for fluctuating cultural processes. While commentators have focused on the first, the second foreshadowed later developments in the field and has more to offer us today.

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L'État éducateur politique dans les campagnes du dix-neuvième siècle

Lectures franco-méditerranéennes d'Eugen Weber

Gilles Pécout

This article explores the role of the state as a vector of political acculturation in the French and Euro-Mediterranean countryside in the nineteenth century. It begins with a consideration of the importance of the reciprocal images of peasants and elites. It goes on to discuss how the terms "modernization" and "modernity" have been called into question, largely on account of how historians have deployed arguments originating in the disciplines of economics and anthropology. Finally, it examines how the debate about the role of the state in rural politicization, based on readings of Eugen Weber's classic book, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France (1870-1914), goes beyond the simple question of the efficiency of the administration and opens up a wider inquiry into the virtual integration of people into the state and the role of rural elites in mediating between the local and the national.

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Extractive Conservation

Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?

Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing

In view of the Aichi international policy targets to expand areas under conservation, we analyze to what extent conservation has become an inherent element of extraction. We scrutinize the Land Sparing versus Land Sharing debate by explicitly incorporating environmental justice issues of access to land and natural resources. We contend that dominant conservation regimes, embedded within Land Sparing, legitimize the displacement of local people and their land use to compensate for distant, unsustainable resource use. In contrast, the Land Sharing counternarrative, by promoting spatial integration of conservation in agroecological systems, has the potential to radically challenge extraction. Common ground emerges around the concept of sustainable intensification. We contend that if inserted in green economy’s technocentric and efficiency-oriented framework, sustainable intensification will contribute to undermining diversified peasant agroecological systems by transforming them into simplified, export-orientated ones, thereby stripping peasant communities of the capacity to provide for their own needs.