1st Edition

Peasants, Capitalism, and Imperialism in an Age of Politico-Ecological Crisis

By Mark Tilzey, Fraser Sugden Copyright 2024

    This book utilises a new theoretical approach to understand the dynamics of the peasantry, and peasant resistance, in relation to capitalism, state, class, and imperialism in the global South.

    In this companion volume to Peasants, Capitalism, and the Work of Eric R. Wolf, the authors further develop their thinking on agrarian transitions to capitalism, the development of imperialism, and the place of the peasantry in these dynamics, with special reference to the global South in an era of politico-ecological crisis. Focusing on the political role of the peasantry in contested transitions to capitalism and to modes of production outside of, and beyond, capitalism, the book contends that an understanding of these dynamics requires an analysis of class struggle and of the resources, material and discursive, that different classes can bring to bear on this struggle. The book focuses on the rise of capitalism in the global South within the context of imperial subordination to the global North, and the place of the peasantry in shaping and resisting these dynamics. The book presents case studies of contested transitions to agrarian capitalism in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and South Asia. It also examines the case of transition to a post-capitalist mode of production in Cuba. The book concludes with an assessment of the nature of capitalism and imperialism within the context of the contemporary politico-ecological crisis, and the potential role of the peasantry as agent of emancipatory change towards social and environmental sustainability.

    This book will be of great interest to students and researchers in the areas of peasant studies, rural politics, agrarian studies, development, and political ecology.

    Introduction; PART I Developing Our Theoretical Approach 1 Paths of Rural Transformation in the Periphery: A Typology of Agrarian Transitions; 2 Typology of Agrarian Transitions as the Basis for the Case Studies: Forms of Peasant Protest; PART II Wolf’s Latin American Case Studies 3 Revisiting Wolf on Mexico; 4 Revisiting Wolf on Cuba; PART III Other Case Studies of Peasant Resistance in the Periphery 5 Latin America; 6 Bolivia; 7 Ecuador; 8 Guatemala; 9 Peru; 10 South Asia; PART IV Whither the Peasantry? 11 Peasants, Politico-Ecological Crisis, and the End of Capitalism


    Mark Tilzey is an Associate Professor, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK. He is also co-author of Peasants, Capitalism, and the Work of Eric R. Wolf: Reviving Critical Agrarian Studies (Routledge, 2024).

    Fraser Sugden is an Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Birmingham, UK. He is also co-author of Peasants, Capitalism, and the Work of Eric R. Wolf: Reviving Critical Agrarian Studies (Routledge, 2024).

    "This outstanding book extends Eric Wolf’s classical text on the peasant wars to the present. More remarkably it is able to gain a fuller and more inclusive understanding of the rural movements in the global North as well as of the peasant wars in the global South by exploring their linkages to a greater variety of agrarian transitions through their own more comprehensive Marxist analysis."

    Cristóbal Kay

    "An enlightening discussion of the status of the peasantry and peasant resistance which intelligently updates Eric Wolf’s country studies of peasant wars and adds insightful new country studies. A useful resource for engaging with a post-capitalist, agroecological politics."

    Kees Jansen, Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University