Journal of Peasant Studies

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 0306-6150
Publications
Article
In 1885 W. W. Hunter, Director‐General of Statistics in India, sent out a circular to all district officers enquiring about rural migration, land reclamation, and the ways in which government or private capitalists could aid reclamation schemes. The present article is based upon the replies which Hunter received. These contain much valuable information: on deserted villages, seasonal migration, the role of forest tribes as the vanguard of land reclamation, scarcity of labour as an obstacle to land reclamation in some areas in contrast with large‐scale coolie emigration from other areas, the limited ability of government to provide aid and guidance to land reclamation schemes, and some instances of successful capitalist ventures in this field. It is suggested that this information may be seen in the light of the methodological discussion on the definition of peasantry on the one hand and Boserup's theory relating demographic features and systems of agricultural production on the other (the latter being of particular importance since it leads to an appreciation of the regional setting of the peasantry process). The relationship between the state and the peasantry is also touched upon.
 
Article
Changes in globalised agriculture raise critical questions as rapid agricultural development leads to widespread social and environmental transformation. With increased global demand for vegetable oils and biofuel, in Indonesia the area under oil palm has doubled over the last decade. This paper presents a case study of how micro-processes that are linked to wider dynamics shape oil palm related agrarian change in villages in Sumatra, Indonesia. It pursues related questions regarding the impact of agribusiness-driven agriculture, the fate of smallholders experiencing contemporary agrarian transition, and the impact of increased demand for vegetable oils and biofuels on agrarian structures in Sumatra. It argues that the paths of agrarian change are highly uneven and depend on how changing livelihood strategies are enabled or constrained by economic, social and political relations that vary over time and space. In contrast to simplifying narratives of inclusion/exclusion, it argues that outcomes depend on the terms under which smallholders engage with oil palm. Distinguishing between exogenous processes of agribusiness expansion and endogenous commodity market expansion, it finds each is associated with characteristic processes of change. It concludes that the way successive policy interventions have worked with the specific characteristics of oil palm have cumulatively shaped the space where agrarian change occurs in Sumatra.
 
Article
This paper asks how investment in large-scale sugar cane production has contributed, and will contribute, to rural development in southern Africa. Taking a case study of the South African company Illovo in Zambia, the argument is made that the potential for greater tax revenue, domestic competition, access to resources and wealth distribution from sugar/ethanol production have all been perverted and with relatively little payoff in wage labour opportunities in return. If the benefits of agro-exports cannot be so easily assumed, then the prospective 'balance sheet' of biofuels needs to be re-examined. In this light, the paper advocates smaller-scale agrarian initiatives.
 
Article
Corn ethanol production is central in the United States' agrofuels initiatives. In this paper I discuss corn ethanol production in Iowa, USA and examine several dynamics: farmers' positions in agrofuel supply chains; struggles around the construction and operation of agrofuel refineries; the politics of ethanol production and regulation; and the ecological consequences of increased corn production. I argue that current US agrofuels production and politics reinforce longstanding and unequal political economic relationships in industrial agriculture. I also argue that the politics of US agrofuels, focused on carbon accounting for greenhouse gas reduction and energy security, privilege urban and other actors' social and ecological interests over those of rural places of production.
 
Article
In response to Albritton [2000], who asserts that the central dynamic of capitalism's genesis was putting-out manufacturing, I provide a sketch of the processes of agrarian capitalism. The elaboration of the common law in the Middle Ages enabled widespread conversion to leaseholds after the plague. An increasingly privatized system of land ownership resulted from the enclosure movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the upheavals of the seventeenth century represented the triumph of the enclosers. The rise of cottage industry in the eighteenth century was supported by a systematic effort at improving agricultural productivity. By the Industrial Revolution, the principle of individual control over production had long been established.
 
Article
Reasons for the relative failure of agricultural development in India during the colonial period are analyzed, and the effects of the scarcity of capital, the absence of suitable technology, and the growth of the population are assessed. "The article explores the manner in which peasant possession of land and other means of subsistence limited productive utilisation of capital and technology, triggered a certain demographic regime and, in turn, disrupted further developmental possibilities." The geographical focus is on the area coinciding with the modern states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
 
Article
The status of international agricultural research as a global public good (GPG) has been widely accepted since the Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. While the term was not used at the time of its creation, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system that evolved at that time has been described as a 'prime example of the promise, performance and perils of an international approach to providing GPGs'. Contemporary literature on international agricultural research as a GPG tends to support this view and focuses on how to operationalize the concept. This paper adopts a different starting point and questions this conceptualization of the CGIAR and its outputs. It questions the appropriateness of such a 'neutral' concept to a system born of the imperatives of Cold War geopolitics, and shaped by a history of attempts to secure its relevance in a changing world. This paper draws on a multi-sited, ethnographic study of a research effort highlighted by the CGIAR as an exemplar of GPG-oriented research. Behind the ubiquitous language of GPGs, 'partnership' and 'consensus', however, new forms of exclusion and restriction are emerging within everyday practice, reproducing North-South inequalities and undermining the ability of these programmes to respond to the needs of projected beneficiaries.
 
Article
Agroecology has played a key role in helping Cuba survive the crisis caused by the collapse of the socialist bloc in Europe and the tightening of the US trade embargo. Cuban peasants have been able to boost food production without scarce and expensive imported agricultural chemicals by first substituting more ecological inputs for the no longer available imports, and then by making a transition to more agroecologically integrated and diverse farming systems. This was possible not so much because appropriate alternatives were made available, but rather because of the Campesino-a-Campesino (CAC) social process methodology that the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) used to build a grassroots agroecology movement. This paper was produced in a 'self-study' process spearheaded by ANAP and La Via Campesina, the international agrarian movement of which ANAP is a member. In it we document and analyze the history of the Campesino-to-Campesino Agroecology Movement (MACAC), and the significantly increased contribution of peasants to national food production in Cuba that was brought about, at least in part, due to this movement. Our key findings are (i) the spread of agroecology was rapid and successful largely due to the social process methodology and social movement dynamics, (ii) farming practices evolved over time and contributed to significantly increased relative and absolute production by the peasant sector, and (iii) those practices resulted in additional benefits including resilience to climate change.
 
Article
This article considers the global expansion of agrofuels feedstock production from a political economy perspective. It considers and dismisses the environmental and pro-poor developmental justifications attached to agrofuels. To local populations and direct producers, the specific destination of the crop as fuel, food, cosmetics or other final uses in faraway places is probably of less interest than the forms of (direct or indirect) appropriation of their land and the forms of their insertion or exclusion as producers in global commodity chains. Global demand for both agrofuels and food is stimulating new forms (or the resurgence of old forms) of corporate land grabbing and expropriation, and of incorporation of smallholders in contracted production. Drawing both on recent studies on agrofuels expansion and on the political economy literature on agrarian transition and capitalism in agriculture, this article raises the question whether "agrofuels capitalism" is in any way essentially different from other forms of capitalist agrarian monocrop production, and in turn whether the agrarian transitions involved require new tools of analysis.
 
Article
Unfreedom in Indian agriculture is ordinarily associated with adult male bonded labour, and it is generally argued that unfreedom is likely to disappear as capitalism spreads/advances. By contrast, we find that workers employed on advanced capitalist cotton seed farms in Andhra Pradesh - accumulation linked to national and multinational capital - involves the employment of labour-power which is mostly unfree, female and young (7-14 years). Addressed here are the reasons for the transformations in the age and gender of unfree workers on such farms since the early 1970s. We argue that, in the context of men's emancipation from bonded labour, employers actively sought out relatively cheaper, more easily disciplined, unfree female labour. Then, in order to secure even cheaper female child labour, employers segmented the female labour market via ideologies about the superiority of female children over adult females. Corresponding changes in labourers' gender relations, which put more of the onus of family maintenance on to women and daughters, were found to facilitate the unfreedom of females.
 
Article
This article examines the nature of women's resistance to gender inequities in resource distribution and ideological representation. It argues that to understand how women perceive these inequities it is necessary to take into account not only their overt protests but also the many covert forms their resistance might take. At the same time, to significantly alter gendered structures of property and power it appears necessary to move beyond 'individual-covert' to 'group-overt' (organized collective) resistance. These issues are examined here especially in the context of women's struggles for land rights and gender equality in South Asia. Although historically South Asian women have been important participants in peasant movements, these movements have not been typified by women demanding independent land rights or contesting iniquitous gender relations within the movements and within their families. Some recent challenges in this direction indicate that attaining gender equality in the distribution of productive resources will require a simultaneous struggle against constraining ideological constructions of gender, including (in many regions) associated social practices such as purdah. And in both types of struggle (namely concerning resources and gender ideologies), group-overt resistance is likely to be of critical importance.
 
Article
New alliances between Brazil and the US for ethanol production, transport, and trade are revitalising and expanding the centuries -old sugarcane plantation system in the Americas. In this paper I adopt the concept of global assemblages, building on the work of Aihwa Ong, Stephen Collier, and Saskia Sassen, to draw the contours of an "ethanol assemblage," which includes states, corporations, growers, technologies, urban consumers, and rural communities and landscapes. Though important to conceptualise agrofuels as a global phenomenon, it is also necessary to recognise the distinct regional patterns that cohere around various aspects of this polymorphous industry. Therefore, I focus on alliances around sugarcane ethanol, paying particular attention to the role of Miami as a global city serving as a gateway to information, investment, and commodities for the public/private and national/transnational entities that are engaged in the hemispheric project of ethanol promotion, production and distribution.
 
Article
The biofuel project is an agro-industrial development and politically contested policy process where governments increasingly become global actors. European Union (EU) biofuels policy rests upon arguments about societal benefits of three main kinds - namely, environmental protection (especially greenhouse gas savings), energy security and rural development, especially in the global South. Each argument involves optimistic assumptions about what the putative benefits mean and how they can be fulfilled. After examining those assumptions, we compare them with experiences in three countries - Germany, Brazil and Mozambique - which have various links to each other and to the EU through biofuels. In those case studies, there are fundamental contradictions between EU policy assumptions and practices in the real world, involving frictional encounters among biofuel promoters as well as with people adversely affected. Such contradictions may intensify with the future rise of biofuels and so warrant systematic attention.
 
Article
This article investigates the changes affecting demographic reproduction of population of peasant origin when they shift from self‐sustenance to market economy and wage‐earning. It shows how in the domestic mode of production, the birth‐rate and the survival of the pre‐productive generation until the age of production are dependent on the labour productivity of subsistence agriculture and on the techniques of conservation of crops, and how social reproduction is governed by the mode of distribution of the surplus‐product. The loss of control of the communities over their grain reserves, and their progressive integration into the market economy and wage‐earning, change the conditions of demographic reproduction, which comes to depend on money income, prices of subsistence, market supply, level of employment etc. These circumstances and the concomitant insecurity favour both a burst of natality as a means of social security and the survival of the younger generations for longer periods; and they accentuate the demographic effects of famines or unemployment. Hence the dramatic consequences of the monetary policy implemented in the dependent countries on the physiological conditions of the proletarianised rural populations.
 
Article
This paper examines the competing claims on land use resulting from the expansion of biofuel production. Sugarcane for biofuel drives agrarian change in So Paulo state, which has become the major ethanol-producing region in Brazil. We analyse how the expansion of sugarcane-based ethanol in So Paulo state has impacted dairy and beef production. Historical changes in land use, production technologies, and product and land prices are described, as well as how these are linked to changing policies in Brazil. We argue that sugarcane/biofuel expansion should be understood in the context of the dynamics of other agricultural sectors and the long-term national political economy rather than as solely due to recent global demand for biofuel. This argument is based on a meticulous analysis of changes in three important sectors - sugarcane, dairy farming, and beef production - and the mutual interactions between these sectors.
 
Article
This article draws on data from research that includes 400 children who lived separately from their migrant parents in 10 rural communities in China, to explore the deep impacts of rural parents' migration on the care-giving and nurturing of children left behind. It shows that parent migration has brought about multiple impacts, mostly negative, on the lives of children, such as increased workloads, little study tutoring and supervision, and above all the unmet needs of parental affection. Children's basic daily care and personal safety could become problematic since surrogate caregivers, mostly elderly, are usually exhausted with livelihood maintenance. With illumination on the family dysfunction in children's development due to migration-induced family separation, this article highlights the social cost to rural families of parental migration. Urbanization in developing countries is obtained at the expense of rural migrants and their families, especially children left behind. Further attention is required to improve left-behind children's well being within split family structures and interregional migration.
 
Article
The global political economy of biofuels emerging since 2007 appears set to intensify inequalities among the countries and rural peoples of the global South. Looking through a global political economy lens, this paper analyses the consequences of proliferating biofuel alliances among multinational corporations, governments, and domestic producers. Since many major biofuel feedstocks - such as sugar, oil palm, and soy - are already entrenched in industrial agricultural and forestry production systems, the authors extrapolate from patterns of production for these crops to bolster their argument that state capacities, the timing of market entry, existing institutions, and historical state-society land tenure relations will particularly affect the potential consequences of further biofuel development. Although the impacts of biofuels vary by region and feedstock, and although some agrarian communities in some countries of the global South are poised to benefit, the analysis suggests that already-vulnerable people and communities will bear a disproportionate share of the costs of biofuel development, particularly for biofuels from crops already embedded in industrial production systems. A core reason, this paper argues, is that the emerging biofuel alliances are reinforcing processes and structures that increase pressures on the ecological integrity of tropical forests and further wrest control of resources from subsistence farmers, indigenous peoples, and people with insecure land rights. Even the development of so-called 'sustainable' biofuels looks set to displace livelihoods and reinforce and extend previous waves of hardship for such marginalised peoples.
 
Article
This article examines proto-industrialization and the social relations of production in a rural parish in eastern Westphalia that experienced large-scale outmigration to the American Midwest in the mid-nineteenth century. Relying on local and individual-level Prussian tax and emigration records, the study identifies and analyses the socio-economic background of the migrant cohort in terms of proto-industrial activity and peasant economy. Preceded by the downfall of domestic textile industries due to British industrial competition, outmigration was highly selective, drawing individuals from specific socio-economic niches. Landless sharecroppers - linked by debt and labour obligations to better-off peasants and landlords - were underrepresented in the migration, while smallholding peasants and day-labourers - 'free' to commodify their labour power through the sale of home-produced textile products or seasonal migratory labour - were overrepresented. The findings of the study have implications for an understanding of the localized nature of the relations of production in proto-industrial regions, the historical nature of German emigrations, and the dynamics of the German transition to industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century.
 
Article
"The focus of this article is on the strong positive correlation between landholdings and household size observed in rural India. It may be recalled that Chayanov cites some Russian data exhibiting a similar correlation as evidence in support of his theory of the life cycle and its consequences among peasant families, arguing in particular that the causation behind the correlation runs from the family size and its composition to the size of landholdings. This paper argues that in the Indian case the correlation cannot possibly arise from the type of dynamics posited by Chayanovian theory. The explanation lies in the differential demographic structures, including the propensity for families to remain joint or undivided, among the peasant classes, the causation running in the direction opposite to that suggested by Chayanov."
 
Article
"This article explores the responses of peasant households in China to the quite new and radical demands made on their resources as a result of the various recent rural economic reforms....[It attempts] to identify current changes in size, structure and activity of domestic and kin groups, and to analyse the new socio-economic relations within and between households. It argues that in order to mobilise and maximise their labour and other resources to arrange for the production, consumption and welfare of household members, close kin and neighbouring peasant households have combined to give rise to a new family form, the aggregate family. This study analyses the factors leading to its formation, identifies the characteristics of this new family form and examines its relations both within and beyond the village."
 
Article
This paper examines some of the interrelations that exist between rural China's peasant economy and the wider economy in which it is embedded. In doing so it focuses on the circular flows that link town and countryside. Multiple job holding is strategic in this respect. The paper draws on research undertaken in a peasant village in Hebei Province. The research highlights some remarkable differences that exist between development processes in China and in other developing countries and traces these back to a combination of an enlightened rural policy and the strong linkages that exist between rural China and its urban "global factory".
 
Class profile of five Dharwad SHGs in Panchnagaram and Kamlapur (N ¼ 75).
The uses of SGSY finance.
Article
This paper notes the prominence of self-help groups (SHGs) within current anti-poverty policy in India, and analyses the impacts of government- and NGO-backed SHGs in rural North Karnataka. It argues that self-help groups represent a partial neoliberalisation of civil society in that they address poverty through low-cost methods that do not challenge the existing distribution of power and resources between the dominant class and the labouring class poor. It finds that intra-group savings and loans and external loans/subsidies can provide marginal economic and political gains for members of the dominant class and those members of the labouring classes whose insecure employment patterns currently provide above poverty line consumption levels, but provide neither material nor political gains for the labouring class poor. Target-oriented SHG catalysts are inattentive to how the social relations of production reproduce poverty and tend to overlook class relations and socio-economic and political differentiation within and outside of groups, which are subject to interference by dominant class local politicians and landowners.
 
Article
"This study attempts to understand the dynamics that produce the persistent observation of a strong positive correlation between family size and extent of landholdings in predominantly agrarian economies [in India]. Such a correlation can arise from different types of demographic configurations including the rules of family formation. For example, big landholdings may be associated with large families, despite the lack of differentials across holdings of different size in fertility and mortality, simply because these families may remain undivided for long periods. In the absence of conclusive data to analyse this relationship in the Indian case, this study sets up a computer simulation model for studying the results of alternative demographic configurations."
 
Article
In recent years, an important item on the agenda of economic reformers in India has been to reduce the scale of food subsidies, by means of targeting the system of public distribution of food (PDS). A recent World Bank study makes concrete suggestions for reform of the PDS and these are examined critically in this article. Specifically, 1 argue against narrow targeting and in favour of broad targeting or near‐universal provision of the PDS. I also argue that a strong and effective system of procurement needs to be maintained and this requires the continuation of an organisation such as the Food Corporation of India. The lesson from Kerala is that strong political support is essential for establishing and maintaining an effective system of food security.
 
Article
The number of famine prone regions in the world has been shrinking for centuries. It is currently mainly limited to sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the impact of endemic hunger has not declined and the early twenty-first century seems to be faced with a new threat: global subsistence crises. In this essay I question the concepts of famine and food crisis from different analytical angles: historical and contemporary famine research, food regime theory, and peasant studies. I will argue that only a more integrated historical framework of analysis can surpass dualistic interpretations grounded in Eurocentric modernization paradigms. This article successively debates historical and contemporary famine research, the contemporary food regime and the new global food crisis, the lessons from Europe's 'grand escape' from hunger, and the peasantry and 'depeasantization' as central analytical concepts. Dualistic histories of food and famine have been dominating developmentalist stories for too long. This essay shows how a blending of historical and contemporary famine research, food regime theory and new peasant studies can foster a more integrated perspective.
 
A food regime/food movements framework. 
Article
This article addresses the potential for food movements to bring about substantive changes to the current global food system. After describing the current corporate food regime, we apply Karl Polanyi's 'double-movement' thesis on capitalism to explain the regime's trends of neoliberalism and reform. Using the global food crisis as a point of departure, we introduce a comparative analytical framework for different political and social trends within the corporate food regime and global food movements, characterizing them as 'Neoliberal', 'Reformist', 'Progressive', and 'Radical', respectively, and describe each trend based on its discourse, model, and key actors, approach to the food crisis, and key documents. After a discussion of class, political permeability, and tensions within the food movements, we suggest that the current food crisis offers opportunities for strategic alliances between Progressive and Radical trends within the food movement. We conclude that while the food crisis has brought a retrenchment of neoliberalization and weak calls for reform, the worldwide growth of food movements directly and indirectly challenge the legitimacy and hegemony of the corporate food regime. Regime change will require sustained pressure from a strong global food movement, built on durable alliances between Progressive and Radical trends.
 
Article
This paper critically assesses the metabolic rift as a social, ecological, and historical concept describing the disruption of natural cycles and processes and ruptures in material human-nature relations under capitalism. As a social concept, the metabolic rift presumes that metabolism is understood in relation to the labour process. This conception, however, privileges the organisation of labour to the exclusion of the practice of labour, which we argue challenges its utility for analysing contemporary socio-environmental crises. As an ecological concept, the metabolic rift is based on outmoded understandings of (agro) ecosystems and inadequately describes relations and interactions between labour and ecological processes. Historically, the metabolic rift is integral to debates about the definitions and relations of capitalism, industrialism, and modernity as historical concepts. At the same time, it gives rise to an epistemic rift, insofar as the separation of the natural and social worlds comes to be expressed in social thought and critical theory, which have one-sidedly focused on the social. We argue that a reunification of the social and the ecological, in historical practice and in historical thought, is the key to repairing the metabolic rift, both conceptually and practically. The food sovereignty movement in this respect is exemplary.
 
Inequality in Farm Size, Department of Cajamarca, 1972- 
The Index of Household Labor Strength 
Mean Household Size by Land-Size Strata 
Fertility and Child Mortality Among Women 50 Years of Age and Older 
Article
"In this paper, [the authors] apply the concepts of demographic and social differentiation to the analysis of inequality among rural households in the northern Peruvian department of Cajamarca. While [they] demonstrate that social rather than demographic differentation is the more important process in this area, [they] illustrate the complementarity of Chayanov's methodological analysis of the family life cycle with a Marxist class-theoretical framework. Both enrich the study of patterns in the agricultural sector of household labor use, family structure and composition, and income inequality."
 
Article
Merle Bowen's study focuses on the evolution of the 'middle peasantry' in both colonial and postcolonial Mozambique. In doing so, she successfully challenges long-standing, if highly problematic, notions that the Mozambican economy consists of a 'traditional', subsistence-oriented peasant sector with only nominal links to 'modern' forms of agriculture, the urban areas, and regional and international markets. At the same time, she usefully illuminates continuities in colonial and post-independence agrarian policies and shows the ways in which the experience of smallholder agricultural co-operatives under the Portuguese shaped the peasantry's perceptions of, and responses to, collective agriculture under Frelimo. However, the evidence in Bowen's case study does not necessarily sustain her central thesis that the post-independence state, like its colonial predecessor, was 'anti-peasant'. This is one of several criticisms made of Bowen's text.
 
Governance structure and standards in three third party coffee certifications.
Nominal conventional, Fair Trade and organic Fair Trade coffee prices
History of Fair Trade minimum prices, premiums and differentials.
Article
The agri-environmental governance of value chains can favour a Polanyian double movement seeking social protection and control over price setting markets or it can advance a neoliberal logic that strives to overcome the few remaining civic and ecologic obstacles to full market dominance. Coupled with a typology that contrasts corporate social responsibility and social economy Fair Trade models, this theoretical framework elucidates positions in the current policy debates about the minimum coffee price standard. Many Southern smallholders consider Fair Trade's standards, which for coffee include direct market accesses for smallholder cooperatives, minimum prices, and environmental criteria, among the best deals available. The smallholder empowerment benefits are often better than competing eco-labels. However, this study finds that Fair Trade minimum prices lost 41 percent of their real value from 1988 to 2008. Despite objections from several 'market driven' firms and national labelling initiatives, smallholders' collective advocacy and this research contributed to the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International's (FLO) decision to mandate a 7-11 percent minimum price increase. The price debates demonstrate that Fair Trade governance is neither purely neoliberal nor social movement led - it is a highly contested socially embedded practice. Voices without votes, North-South inequalities, and dwindling prices paid to its stated protagonists indicate the need for governance reform, cost of living price adjustments, and additional investment in the innovative alternative trade and hybrid models.
 
it can be noted that since 1995 (and in particular since begin 1997) 
Article
This paper analyses the complex and rather diversified process of agrarian transformation that is taking place in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), focusing on the geographical area of Central Asia.
 
Article
This paper explores th� mie of business services in knowledge accumulation and growth and the determinants of knowledge diffusion including the role of distance. A continuous time model is estimated on several European countries, Japan, and the US. The results of the estimation and the policy simulations support the basic insights of the Lisbon Agenda . Economic growth in Europe is enhanced to the extent that: trade in services increases, technology accumulation and diffusion increase, regulation becomes both less intensive and more uniform across countries, and human capital accumulation increases in all countries.
 
Article
This study examines the experience of contract farmers in the hilly southern region of West Java, using illustrations from two types of upland contracting schemes. The nucleus in one case (smallholder dairy farming) is a co‐operative, and in the second (smallholder hybrid coconuts) a large nationalised plantation corporation. In both cases contract farming communities deviate markedly from the neo‐populist vision of homogeneous, modernising family farms; differentiation is quite marked, and wage labour common. In both cases the institutional framework surrounding contract farmers is in serious need of democratisation; the problem is not one of formal structures in need of revision but of actual function and substance of relationships, which reflect the nature and exercise of power in rural society.
 
Autonomous peasant and indigenous coalitions in Guerrero, 1984-2008.
Article
In Mexico's southern state of Guerrero, rural social and civic movements are increasingly claiming their right to information as a tool to hold the state publicly accountable, as part of their ongoing issue-specific social, economic, and civic struggles. This study reviews the historical, social and political landscape that grounds campaigns for rural democratisation in Guerrero, including Mexico's recent information access reforms and then compares two different regional social movements that have claimed the 'right to know'. For some movements, the demand for information rights is part of a sustained strategy, for others it is a tactic, but the claim bridges both more resistance-oriented and more negotiation- oriented social and civic movements.
 
Article
ABSTRACT & RÉSUMÉ & ZUSAMMENFASSUNG: The study attempts to highlight the interrelation between three central points in the ongoing debate on the political economy of development: viability, surplus, and class formation. A case study of the develop¬ment of rural labour systems in Northern Nigeria is meant to provide both a better qualitative and quantitative idea of this interrelation. After an analysis of the socio-economic effects of forced and bonded labour during colonial times, the articulation of different systems of family and non-family labour in present-day Nupeland has been investigated. Contrary to widespread assumptions about the increasing use of wage-labour in modern times, class-specific effects of labour and capital input do even result in an increasing use of communal labour by rich and middle Nupe peasants after the Nigerian Civil War: the form of the labour-contract remains, however its content changes fundamentally. The socio-economic and material base for small-scale peasant subsistence production has been gradually destroyed. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RÉSUMÉ: [Différenciation des classes rurales au Nigeria. Théorie et pratique - une approche quantitative dans le cas de Nupeland] L'étude tente de mettre en évidence l'interrelation entre trois points centraux du débat en cours sur l'économie politique du développement: la viabilité, les surplus et la formation des classes. Une étude de cas sur le développement de systèmes de main-d'œuvre rurale dans le nord du Nigéria vise à fournir à la fois une meilleure idée qualitative et quantitative de cette corrélation. Après une analyse des effets socio-économiques du travail forcé et du travail en servitude pendant la période coloniale, l'articulation des différents systèmes de travail familial et non-familial dans le Nupeland actuel a été étudiée. Contrairement aux hypothèses largement répandues sur l'utilisation croissante du travail salarié dans les temps modernes, les effets du travail et du capital propres à une classe entraînent un recours croissant au travail communautaire par les paysans Nupe après la guerre civile nigériane. Le contrat de travail reste, mais son contenu change fondamentalement. La base socio-économique et matérielle de la production de subsistance paysanne à petite échelle a été progressivement détruite. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ZUSAMMENFASSUNG: [Ländliche Klassenbildung in Nigeria: Theorie und Praxis - eine quantitative Fallstudie im Nupeland] Die Studie versucht, den Zusammenhang zwischen drei zentralen Punkten in der laufenden Debatte über die politische Ökonomie der Entwicklung aufzuzeigen: Wirtschaftlichkeit, Surplus und Klassenbildung. Eine Fallstudie zur Entwicklung ländlicher Arbeitssysteme in Nordnigeria soll sowohl eine bessere qualitative als auch eine quantitative Vorstellung von dieser Wechselbeziehung liefern. Nach einer Analyse der sozioökonomischen Auswirkungen von Zwangsarbeit und Schuldknechtschaft während der Kolonialzeit wird die Artikulation verschiedener Systeme von Familien- und Nichtfamilienarbeit im heutigen Nupeland untersucht. Entgegen weit verbreiteter Annahmen über den zunehmenden Einsatz von Lohnarbeit in modernen Zeiten führen in Nordnigeria nach dem nigerianischen Bürgerkrieg klassenspezifische Auswirkungen von Arbeits- und Kapitaleinsatz sogar zu einem zunehmenden Einsatz kommunaler Arbeit durch reiche und mittlere Nupe Bauern: die Form von des Arbeitsvertrags bleibt bestehen, sein Inhalt ändert sich jedoch grundlegend. Die sozioökonomische und materielle Basis für die kleinbäuerliche Subsistenzproduktion wird schrittweise zerstört.
 
Article
Rural local government inMexicois contestedterrain, sometimes representing the state to society, sometimes representing society to the state. In Mexico’s federal system, the municipality is widely considered to be the ‘most local’ level of government, but authoritarian centralization is often reproduced within municipalities, subordinating smaller, outlying villages politically, economically and socially. Grassroots civic movements throughout rural Mexico have mobilized for community self-governance, leading to a widespread, largely invisible and ongoing ‘regimetransition’ at the sub-municipal level. This study analyzes this unresolved process of political contestation in the largely rural, low-income states of Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
 
Agricultural employment by farm type 1990-2002. Source: Bogdanovskii (2008).
Main family income sources
Conference Paper
The results of a rural survey in two Russian regions demonstrate that agriculture is no longer the main source of income for rural families. Rural families are diversifiers, earning non-agricultural income through both non-agricultural wage employment and non-farm self-employment. The rural population is risk-averse, preferring the relative security of wage employment to individual entrepreneurship. Although all respondents would like to earn more, they are reluctant to consider the option of changing their place of work and are afraid of losing their current job. It may be difficult for new profit-oriented employers to offer equitable solutions to all segments of the rural population without properly designed government support programmes, which furthermore should be targeted to the labour force of the future, i.e., the Russian youth.
 
INDEX OF CHANGES IN AGRICULTURAL COMMODITY PRICES Source: Government of Palestine, Office of Statistics, various years, General Monthly Bulletin of Current Statistics. Note: The same measurements of quantity and quality were taken for each product throughout the period examined.
Article
In Nazareth, the wholesale merchants of agricultural commodities made every effort to acquire crops during harvest time, when commodity prices were at their lowest, and to sell them a few months later when demand (and prices) had increased. To facilitate this, merchants established close economic ties with peasant proprietors, in particular by providing them with a 'safety net' in lean years in the form of loans at comparatively attractive rates. An unwritten part of this arrangement was that a peasant in such a relationship with a merchant would market most of the surplus of his cash crops at harvest time. A contract in the credit market was thus simultaneously a contract in the goods market, ensuring that merchants would receive payment in crops, while peasants were paid in advance for their produce. It was also the custom that in cases of default, the merchant became the owner of the mortgaged land and the former landowner became the tenant. In such circumstances, the new tenancy agreement was usually interlinked with other agreements, especially in regard to animal husbandry.
 
Article
This article reviews some of the salient aspects of the controversy over capitalism and the fate of Russian peasantry, among the Russian Marxists and the narodniks immediately prior to and after the Bolshevik revolution. At issue was the characterization of peasant economies. The narodniks believed that neither marginalism nor Marxism fully captured the nuances of peasant agriculture and the economic system/systems that evolved out of it; neither the market model nor class analysis adequately described the allocative and distributive processes in such economies. While nineteenth-century narodniks stressed the role of institutions based in the village community, Chayanov's twentieth-century populism stressed the organizational dynamic of peasant households within an institutional framework. Accordingly, the economics of the Chayanovian interpretation are examined from an institutional and organizational perspective. Such an exercise, it is argued, lends more credibility not only to the narodnik agenda, but also to the peasantist model of development.
 
Article
Comparing two of the main paradigms utilized in the study of Latin American peasants, this introduction considers the way each interprets grassroots rural identity/agency, as embodied in their respective approaches to the reproduction and survival of peasant economy, the empowering/disempowering nature of specific kinds of agrarian mobilization and labour regime, together with their perception of the role/form of the State. The first of these paradigms is the one used by the 'new' postmodern populists, who - together with neoliberals - theorize rural agency as based on innate peasant/ethnic identity, the aim of which is not to transcend capitalism but to survive within it. This approach to the peasantry in Latin America contrasts with that of the agrarian question, an 'old' paradigm in which rural agency based on class identity is designed to capture and exercise state power, with the political object of transcending capitalism. Their relative merits are examined, and evaluated in terms of the case studies presented in this volume.
 
Article
This review article discusses three recent books on the production and circulation of commodities within the early modern Atlantic world. It focuses on the rise of that Atlantic world as a field of historical enquiry, and upon the importance of goods such as sugar, codfish, and medicinal plants within that world in both historic and in historiographical terms. The three titles under review deal with commodities in very different ways and on very different scales. Taken together, however, they present a rich and varied picture of the production and consumption of commodities in both the North and South Atlantic, and of the meanings which both producers sand consumers attached to these goods.
 
Article
Concerted attempts to exclude farming people from policy development and decision-making have been accompanied by the formation of an international peasant and farm movement, the V?a Campesina, which emerged in 1993. This article examines the response of peasant and farm organizations to the increased globalization of an industrialized and liberalized model of agriculture by analyzing the formation, consolidation and functioning of the V?a Campesina. The V?a Campesina is using three traditional weapons of the weak - organization, cooperation and community - to redefine rural development and to build an alternative model, one that is based on social justice, gender and ethnic equality, economic equity and environmental sustainability.
 
Article
This article examines the responses of the rural poor, both settled peasants and pastoral nomads, to the upheavals unleashed in the Iranian countryside by Riza Shah's adoption of a programme of authoritarian state-building and rapid modernization. The article shows how, contrary to the conventional assumptions of rural passivity held by both Western scholarship and Iranian nationalism, peasant and nomad communities in fact generated a variety of active responses to the regime's initiatives, both on their own account and in combination with other social forces, aimed at defending themselves and resisting unfavourable changes in their relations with landlords and state officials.
 
Article
Agrarian conflict in Central Bihar has frequently been ascribed to the 'stagnant' and unchanging nature of the rural economy. It is suggested here that in reality, this region has witnessed major changes in patterns of surplus appropriation and investment during the last 25 years. An initial spurt of capital accumulation among a section of larger landowners employing wage labour provided the catalyst for the emergence in the late 1970s of an organised movement of mainly dalit agricultural labourers. This movement has continued to develop despite a subsequent slowing down of the process of accumulation in agriculture in the face of constraints rooted in the agrarian structure itself and the nature of State power in Bihar. The interrelated questions of class, caste and gender which have shaped this movement are discussed, and it is suggested that a number of changes in production relations during the last 15 years represent either acceptance by employers of demands put forward by agricultural labourers; or essentially defensive reactions to such demands. At the same time, employers are constantly developing new strategies to attempt to neutralise or reverse gains made by labourers.
 
Article
The rural proletariat constitute a substantial proportion of the global poor. Leading better lives is central to their political practices. In this paper, I aim to elaborate the political practices that attend to these aspirations, interrogations and contests. I examine existing approaches to studying political practices of the rural proletariat. I do this with a focus on India, where the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is in force since 2005. I locate the program against the backdrop of neoliberal transformations in India. I then examine the ways in which the rural proletariat engage with the program, even when other opportunities in the agricultural sector are available. Based on these examinations, I argue that the practices spawned by the program are to be understood as ‘encroachments’ into the extant social customs, norms and habits of rural India. This perspective, I contend, is more fruitful than locating the rural proletariat's engagement with the NREGA as a coping strategy or a tactic of resistance against rural elites. The data which this paper draws on include official sources, in-depth interviews with workers in rural Bihar and West Bengal and ethnographic observations.
 
Article
Migrant labour in Southern Africa is associated historically with rural poverty and a high incidence of women‐headed households. Poverty alleviation approaches to social policy ask whether in this context rural women‐headed households are poorer than those headed by men. Ample research from the region shows that the answer is not always, a finding once more confirmed here in an analysis of Botswana. This case suggests, however, that the wrong question is being asked. The incidence of both women‐headed households and rural poverty has increased with the polarisation of agrarian production and the exclusionary restructuring of the migrant labour system. We need to ask not whom to target, but what should be done when capital no longer needs the labour that it pulled from rural households over so many generations.
 
Article
The paper examines land restitution in the new South Africa, and looks at the intersecting roles of land-claiming communities who were forcibly resettled from their land during the apartheid years and the NGOs and – since 1994 - Government Commissioners who have helped them to reclaim the land. Ideas and practices concerning land, community and development that have emerged from the interaction between these different players have been mutually constitutive but are sometimes mutually incomprehensible. A populist rhetoric, evident both in discussions with former land owners, and in much of the writing in NGO publications such as Land Update, depicts land as something communally owned which must be communally defended. This sense of a uniformly experienced injustice and a shared resistance against outside intervention obscures the fact that claims on land derive from a series of sharply differentiated historical experiences and articulate widely divergent interests, such as those - in the case of the farm Doornkop for example - between former owners and their former tenants. The restitution of land to these former owners, while being of great importance to them as a source of identity and as a redress of past injustices, is not necessarily the key to solving “poverty, injustice and misery” as has been claimed for the process of land reform as a whole.
 
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The paper is concerned with marginal populations affected by the ‘truncated agrarian transitions’ of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: people displaced out of land-based employment without reasonable prospects for accumulation in the non-farm economy. It analyses the forms of economic agency of people living in the migrant routes and networks connecting the shantytowns of Cape Town and the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa. It describes the artful and hybrid nature of their livelihood strategies – strategies that involve the integration from ‘below’ of urban and rural spaces, formal and informal income, and which simultaneously take shape outside the regulatory spaces conferred by the state, and make use of the rights and opportunities created by law and formality. Far from being reduced to the ‘outcast’ condition of ‘bare life’, marginalized and poor people in South Africa pursue inventive strategies on uneven terrain, cutting across the dichotomies of official discourse and teleological analysis. This allows a more nuanced analysis of the nature and specificity of the agrarian transition in South Africa.
 
Article
As part of an ongoing agenda by Vietnamese lawmakers and local state officials to accelerate market integration in the northern mountains, rural marketplaces are being physically and managerially restructured according to standard state-approved models. Moreover, these market directives are coherent with the ‘distance demolishing technologies’ that James Scott (200947. Scott, J.C. 2009. The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press.View all references) suggests the state has implemented to bring these uplands more directly under its panoptic gaze. This integration strategy seldom meshes well with upland livelihood needs. In this paper we examine a number of power contestations currently unfolding as upland market traders – both Vietnamese and ethnic minorities – negotiate or resist these developments while striving to maintain meaningful livelihoods.
 
Article
For four decades, The Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS) has served as a principal arena for the formation and dissemination of cutting-edge research and theory. It is globally renowned as a key site for documenting and analyzing variegated trajectories of agrarian change across space and time. Over the years, authors have taken new angles as they reinvigorated classic questions and debates about agrarian transition, resource access and rural livelihoods. This introductory essay highlights the four classic themes represented in Volume 1 of the JPS anniversary collection: land and resource dispossession, the financialization of food and agriculture, vulnerability and marginalization, and the blurring of the rural-urban relations through hybrid livelihoods. Contributors show both how new iterations of long-evident processes continue to catch peasants and smallholders in the crosshairs of crises and how many manage to face these challenges, developing new sources and sites of livelihood production.
 
Top-cited authors
Ian Scoones
  • Institute of Development Studies
Saturnino Borras
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
Ben White
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
Ruth Hall
  • University of the Western Cape
Philip Mcmichael
  • Cornell University