1st Edition

Peasants in World History

By Eric Vanhaute Copyright 2021
    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    This is the first world history of peasants. 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 peasant 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, Global Studies and Rural Sociology.

    1 Introduction: The Peasant in Each of Us 1

    2 New Frontiers: From the First Peasants to Early Agrarian States 12

    3 Extending Frontiers: Agrarian Empires and Their Peasants 34

    4 Interconnecting Frontiers: Imperial Growth, Commercial Expansion and the Peasantization of the World 61

    5 Intensifying Frontiers: The Territorialization of Peasantries and the Final Enclosure 87

    6 Globalizing Frontiers: The Reform of Peasantries in a Neoliberal World 113

    7 The End of Frontiers: The Past and the Future of Peasants 131


    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.