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Jg. 65 – 2017 – Heft 2: Ländliche Akteure zwischen Protest und Revolution (18. bis 21. Jahrhundert)

Hg.: Niels Grüne und Karl-Friedrich Bohler


Table of Contents:

Offene und verschleierte Widerstandsformen in Agrargesellschaften: Banditentum, Rebellion und informelle Beziehungsnetzwerke
Christian Giordano

This article aims to deconstruct the romanticised depiction of the peaceful and harmonious world of agrarian societies, highlighting, instead, the tensions and conflicts of these social configurations. Accordingly, it analyses the different forms of peasant resistance against the dominant classes and state institutions (politicians and bureaucrats included). The article focuses on two types of open resistance and protest, i.e. the so-called social banditry and the various phenomena of rebellism. In these societies, however, there is also the alternative option of more inconspicuous and nearly invisible strategies of resistance. These chiefly involve informal personalised networks, such as coalitions based on patron-client relationships. These coalitions aim to counter the arbitrariness of power structures and states, which are perceived as distant and alien. Thus, on the one hand, their legitimacy is rejected while on the other their efficacy, viewed as detrimental, is curtailed.


Stadt, Land und suburbaner Raum als Orte des Widerstands: Das britische Empire im 18. Jahrhundert
Monika Barget

Critically examining the social-historical assumption that urban and rural settlements separated in the course of the eighteenth century, this article analyses overlaps and interdependencies between town and countryside in the British Empire. The Jacobite rebellions after 1688, the American Revolution and the Irish Rebellion of 1798 deserve to be studied in terms of a growing anti-centralism and anti-globalism in Britain and the colonies. Many eighteenth-century uprisings were, in fact, transregional and transcended the traditional socio-cultural stratification of society. Although rural areas were often infrastructurally disadvantaged, they nevertheless participated in overarching concepts of nationhood and counter-global networks. Furthermore, the Sacheverell Riots of 1710 as well as the anti-Catholic riots of 1778 to 1780 suggest a great political relevance of the suburban space. As zones of transition and social mobility, the outskirts of eighteenth-century towns and cities were vital hubs of communication and radicalisation. A clearer physical and discursive separation of urban and rural cultures only emerged in the nineteenth century when economic and demographic change fostered unprecedented class-distinction.


Peasants and politics in the Age of Revolution (1760 – 1848): A historiographical account of the issue in France
Laurent Brassart

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, new studies have enriched and widened our understanding of the concept of politicisation in the French rural world. The first historiographic breakthrough was achieved by no longer regarding peasants as an apolitical and apathetic mass which the political elite had to politicise. On the contrary, analysing what politicians said about peasants clearly reveals the former’s incapability of grasping the latter’s political aspirations. There is also a growing awareness of political impulses in rural areas. Some French historians are now more interested in the informal or apparently apolitical dimension of politics to the extent that some of them have even talked of the people’s allegedly a-temporal politics. Other historians attempt to redefine the institutional space and its practices in the rural world: e.g. learning how to vote or how to be a citizen – and its corollary, political sociability. Finally, the role played by emotions and memory, notably the return of the repressed and the resurgence of memory which brought about antagonistic political cultures within the peasantry, have been reconsidered. The other historiographic breakthrough results from the methodological prudence of a new generation of historians, who are anxious to no longer view the peasantry as an ‘object-class’ (P. Bourdieu) but rather try to deconstruct it. Sharply contrasting geopolitical attitudes in the rural world and a new way of examining temporal processes have emerged thanks to their work: No political process is any longer held to have been linear and teleological in the peasant world (political reclassifications were constantly occurring from 1789 to 1848). Consequently, the peasant community is also reconsidered and dissected. Its alleged unanimity has been questioned and greater attention is now being paid to centrifugal forces which led to divisions and even sometimes implosion. This implies focusing more on the political individuation of peasants and on the way collective and personal strategies as well as formal and informal political processes were articulated and how local and national forces interacted.


Traditionalistische Widersetzlichkeit oder politische Programmatik? Russlands Bauern im Kräftefeld von Agrarreform und revolutionärer Mobilisierung (1856–1941)
Stephan Merl

The article examines peasant unrest in Russia, focusing on the uprisings between 1918 and 1922, the rural women’s riots of 1930, and the ‘peasant revolutions’ of 1905-07 and 1917-18. Based on a long term perspective, it challenges the standard interpretation of peasants’ behaviour between the emancipation in 1861 and the re-establishment of a system of forced labour under Stalin. The emphasis lies on the links between urban and rural areas and the connection between peasant unrest and agricultural modernisation. It is argued that in spite of their preoccupation with local conditions, the peasants played a decisive role in overturning Tsarist rule. In general, however, peasants wanted to draw attention to their problems rather than to subvert the political regime. The article explores the peasants’ views on fairness and why they were so fixated on the abolishment of noble landed property and the ‘lack of land’-slogan. The conclusion discusses the peasants’ scope of action and analyses whether their protest was successful: Was it destructive as it hindered the improvement of agriculture? Did it force the state to pay heed to rural problems and agrarian reform in the first place? And finally, did it start a gradual politicisation among the peasants?


Kleinbäuerliche Widerstandsstrategien und die Rolle der FARC-Guerilla im kolumbianischen Landkonflikt
Thomas Fischer, David Graaff

This article examines the historical development of land conflicts in Colombia as well as the resistance strategies employed by peasant farmers (campesinos). In particular, it focuses on those parts of the colono-movement which, in some regions, have close ties to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). It argues that, while the FARC considered themselves a Marxist and socialist organisation during their 53 years of its existence, in practice, contrary to their ideology, they defended a reformist concept. The FARC made this once again quite clear, when it came to peace negotiations with the historically weak Colombian state from 2012 to 2016. In fact, it turned out that this guerrilla aims at establishing and consolidating a bourgeois liberal-democratic order and statehood. This became evident in their demands concerning the agrarian sector. The Zonas de Reserva Campesina (ZRC) are discussed as a case study at the end of the paper.



Physische Gewalt als Herrschaftsmittel: Ein Vergleich dreier philippinischer Regionen
Peter Kreuzer

This paper presents the core results of a research project on the role of physical violence in upholding political domination in several regions of the Philippines (Pampanga, Negros Occidental and Muslim Mindanao with a specific focus on Maguindanao). It distinguishes between horizontal violence employed in intra-elite competition for political and economic resources and vertical top-down violence employed against threats to the established order emanating from both civil society actors and rebel-groups. With respect to both forms of violence, there are significant differences between the regions depending on local structure. Increasing state strength and institutionalisation have not resulted in an overall avoidance of physical violence employed by the elite. Instead, forms as well as the role of state institutions and targets vary, depending on economic structure, level of development and local cultural peculiarities. Ruling oligarchic elites have proven to be highly adaptable to changing political and economic environments in all three regions. Despite formally securely established democratic institutions they have successfully defended their hegemonic control over variations of an order that can be characterised as a Mafia-style democracy where strongmen and political families utilise physical violence as a means of last resort for upholding or extending power.

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