Peasants in World History analyzes the multiple transformations of peasant life through history by focusing on three primary areas: the organization of peasant societies, their integration within wider societal structures, and the changing connections between local, regional, and global processes.
Peasants have been a vital component in human history over the last 10,000 years, with nearly one-third of the world’s population still living a similar lifestyle today. Their role as rural producers of ever-new surpluses instigated complex and often-opposing processes of social and spatial change throughout the world. Eric Vanhaute frames this social change in a story of evolving peasant frontiers. These frontiers provide a global comparative-historical lens to look at the social, economic, and ecological changes within village-systems, agrarian empires, and global capitalism. Bringing the story of the peasantry up through the modern period and looking to the future, the author offers a succinct overview with students in mind.
This book is recommended reading to anyone interested in the history and future of peasantries, and is a valuable addition to undergraduate and graduate courses in World History, Global Economic History, and Rural Sociology.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: the peasant in each of us 2. New frontiers: from the first peasants to the first agrarian states 3. Extending frontiers: agrarian empires and their peasantries 4. Interconnecting frontiers: imperial growth, commercial expansion and the peasantization of the world 5. Intensifying frontiers: the territorialization of peasantries and the final enclosure 6. Globalizing frontiers: the reform of peasantries in a neo-liberal world 7. The end of frontiers: the past and the future of peasants
Eric Vanhaute is Professor in Economic and Social History and World History at Ghent University, Belgium. He has published extensively on agrarian and rural history, the history of labor markets and social inequality, and world history.