The concept of ?peasant? has been constructed from residual images of pre-industrial European and colonial rural society. Spurred by Romantic sensibilities and modern nationalist imaginations, the images the word peasant brings to mind are anachronisms that do not reflect the ways in which rural people live today. In this path-breaking book, Michael Kearney shows how the concept has been outdistanced by contemporary history. He situates the peasantry within the current social context of the transnational and post?Cold War nation-state and clears the way for alternative theoretical views.Reconceptualizing the Peasantry looks at rural society in general and considers the problematic distinction between rural and urban. Most definitions of and debates about peasants have focused on their presumed social, economic, cultural, and political characteristics, but Kearney articulates the way in which peasants define themselves in a rapidly changing world. In the process, he develops ethnographic and political forms of representation that correspond to contemporary postpeasant identities. Moving beyond a reconsideration of peasantry, the book situates anthropology in global context, showing how the discipline reconstructs itself and its subjects according to changing circumstances.
About the Author
Michael Kearney is professor of anthropology at the University of California at Riverside.