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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.Jing Su and Luo Lun 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.
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.
For centuries throughout large portions of the globe, petty agriculturalists and industrialists have set their physical and mental energies to work producing products for direct consumption by their households and for exchange. This twofold household reproduction strategy, according to both Marxist and neoclassical approaches to development, should have disappeared from the global economy as labor was transformed into a producer as well as a consumer of capitalist commodities. But in fact, during the twentieth century, only the United States and Britain seem to have approximated this predicted scenario. Tens of millions of households in contemporary Asia, Africa, and Latin America and millions more in industrialized capitalist economies support themselves through petty commodity production alone or in combination with petty industry wage labor.
Obliging Need provides a detailed and comprehensive analysis of small-scale peasant and artisan enterprise in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico. The authors show how commodity production is organized and operates in different craft industries, as well as the ways in which it combines with other activities such as household chores, agriculture, wage labor, and petty commerce. They demonstrate how—contrary to developmentalist dogma—small-scale capitalism develops from within Mexico's rural economy.
These findings will be important for everyone concerned with improving the lives and economic opportunities of countryfolk in the Third World. As the authors make clear, political mobilization in rural Mexico will succeed only as it addresses the direct producers' multiple needs for land, credit, more jobs, health insurance, and, most importantly, more equitable remuneration for their labor and greater rewards for their enterprise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2007 — LASA Peru Flora Tristán Book Prize from the Peru Section – Latin American Studies Association
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.
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.
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.
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