Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World  book cover
1st Edition

Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World

ISBN 9780367753870
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
526 Pages

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Book Description

The rise of authoritarian, nationalist forms of populism and the implications for rural actors and settings is one of the most crucial foci for critical agrarian studies today, with many consequences for political action.

Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World reflects on the rural origins and consequences of the emergence of authoritarian and populist leaders across the world, as well as on the rise of multi-class mobilisation and resistance, alongside wider counter-movements and alternative practices, which together confront authoritarianism and nationalist populism. The book includes 20 chapters written by contributors to the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI), a global network of academics and activists committed to both reflective analysis and political engagement. Debates about ‘populism’, ‘nationalism’, ‘authoritarianism’ and more have exploded recently, but relatively little of this has focused on the rural dimensions. Yet, wherever one looks, the rural aspects are key – not just in electoral calculus, but in understanding underlying drivers of authoritarianism and populism, and potential counter-movements to these. Whether because of land grabs, voracious extractivism, infrastructural neglect or lack of services, rural peoples’ disillusionment with the status quo has had deeply troubling consequences and occasionally hopeful ones, as the chapters in this book show.

The chapters in this book were originally published in The Journal of Peasant Studies.

Table of Contents


1. Emancipatory rural politics: confronting authoritarian populism

Ian Scoones, Marc Edelman, Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Ruth Hall, Wendy Wolford and Ben White

2. Counterrevolution, the countryside and the middle classes: lessons from five countries

Walden Bello

3. People and places left behind: work, culture and politics in the rural United States

Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad and Cynthia M. Duncan

4. Power and powerlessness in an Appalachian Valley – revisited

John Gaventa

5. The rural roots of the rise of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey

Burak Gürel, Bermal Küçük and Sercan Taş

6. Rural rage: the roots of right-wing populism in the United States

Chip Berlet and Spencer Sunshine

7. Neoliberal developmentalism, authoritarian populism, and extractivism in the countryside: the Soma mining disaster in Turkey

Fikret Adaman, Murat Arsel and Bengi Akbulut

8. The vanishing exception: republican and reactionary specters of populism in rural Spain

Jaume Franquesa

9. Understanding the silent majority in authoritarian populism: what can we learn from popular support for Putin in rural Russia?

Natalia Mamonova

10. Authoritarian populism in rural Belarus: distinction, commonalities, and projected finale

Aleh Ivanou

11. Land grabbing and the making of an authoritarian populist regime in Hungary

Noémi Gonda

12. Authoritarian populism and neo-extractivism in Bolivia and Ecuador: the unresolved agrarian question and the prospects for food sovereignty as counter-hegemony

Mark Tilzey

13. Pockets of liberal media in authoritarian regimes: what the crackdown on emancipatory spaces means for rural social movements in Cambodia

Alice Beban, Laura Schoenberger and Vanessa Lamb

14. Confronting agrarian authoritarianism: dynamics of resistance to PROSAVANA in Mozambique

Boaventura Monjane and Natacha Bruna

15. Populism from above and below: the path to regression in Brazil

Daniela Andrade

16. ‘They say they don’t see color, but maybe they should!’ Authoritarian populism and colorblind liberal political culture

Michael Carolan

17. Agrarian anarchism and authoritarian populism: towards a more (state-)critical ‘critical agrarian studies’

Antonio Roman-Alcalá

18. ‘Actually existing’ right-wing populism in rural Europe: insights from eastern Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine

Natalia Mamonova, Jaume Franquesa and Sally Brooks

19. Unpacking ‘authoritarian populism’ and rural politics: some comments on ERPI

Henry Bernstein

20. From ‘populist moment’ to authoritarian era: challenges, dangers, possibilities

Marc Edelman

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Ian Scoones is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre.

Marc Edelman is Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Saturnino M. Borras Jr. is Professor of Agrarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, the Netherlands, an Adjunct Professor at China Agricultural University in Beijing, and a fellow of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI).

Lyda Fernanda Forero was, until April 2020, coordinator of the Agrarian and Environmental Justice (AEJ) program of the Transnational Institute. She is currently with the secretariat of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA).

Ruth Hall is Professor of Land and Agrarian Studies at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

Wendy Wolford is Polson Professor of Global Development at Cornell University, USA.

Ben White is Emeritus Professor of Rural Sociology at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague.


"Right-wing authoritarian populist movements, parties, and governments arise in great part from the discontents fueled by the iniquities of neoliberal capitalist globalisation. This book breaks new ground in searching for the usually neglected rural roots behind and consequences of such authoritarian populisms. The book is comparative in scope, so that its central argument about the significance of the agrarian and rural order is adequately tested and confirmed. The book is also a call for further global research and study with the aim of identifying possibilities - a 'rural politics' and agential sources - that respectively can be articulated and mobilised to combat such populisms. The remarkable upsurge of farmers and rural workers against the Hindu nationalist Modi regime in India is a powerful testimony to the truth of the very politics that this book seeks to underscore."

Achin Vanaik, Retired Professor of 'International Politics and Global Studies', University of Delhi