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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.