Peasant Poverty and Persistence in the Twenty‐first Century: Theories, Debates, Realities and Policies
This is an outstanding book on key issues and debates about the peasantry. All the contributors are well‐known and highly regarded scholars, and some are also influential activists; among them are Susan Mann, James Dickinson, Armando Bartra, Henry Bernstein, Enrique Leff, Kostas Vergopoulos, and David Barkin. The book is the outcome of a 3‐day seminar in which the selected contributors presented and debated their respective papers. Before the seminar, Julio Boltvinik produced a background paper presenting the three main themes for the seminar. The invited researchers were asked to address three questions from their particular perspective and in relation to Boltvinik's own proposed theorization. The three question were as follows: Why has the peasantry persisted? Why are they poor? And what are the links between these two questions? Framed within Marxist political economy, the persistence of the peasantry is problematic for Marxists as the development of capitalism was expected to lead to the elimination of all non‐capitalist forms of production. In the classic Marxist literature, it was argued that through a process of socio‐economic differentiation, a minority of peasants via a process of capitalization would become capitalist farmers while the majority of peasants via a process of proletarianization would lose access to their means of production. Hence, the peasantry would disappear. The first question on the persistence of the peasantry has been much debated by Marxists and non‐Marxists alike, especially by populists and neo‐populists, like Alexander Chayanov (1974). The main originality of the book therefore lies in the third question on the relationship between the persistence of the peasantry and the persistence of their poverty. The book is organized in three parts. The first part has a foreword by Meghnad Desai and the introduction by the editors. The second part has the background paper by Boltvinik (chapter 1) and the papers by the invited contributors organized in four themes: theoretical perspectives on peasant poverty and persistence (chapters 1 to 4); historical and empirical approaches (chapters 5 and 6); environment, food crisis, and peasants (chapters 7 to 9); and policy, self‐reliance, and peasant poverty (chapters 10 and 11). The third part closes the book with chapter 12 by Boltvinik in which he reflects on the dialogues and debates provoked by the seminar papers and, above all, replies to the various commentaries and criticisms raised by the contributors.
|Journal of Agrarian Change|
Boltvinik, J, & Archer Mann, S. (2017, July 25). Peasant Poverty and Persistence in the Twenty‐first Century: Theories, Debates, Realities and Policies. Journal of Agrarian Change. doi:10.1111/joac.12236