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Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
Peasant Society
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Peasant Society


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Defines peasantry and provides an overview of their features.

Defines peasantry and provides an overview of their features.

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  • 1. Peasant Society Maya Culture Area and China
  • 2. Defining Peasants
    • Kroeber in a 800-page tome Anthropology allows a part sentence to define peasant as “part societies with part cultures”
    • This indicates that peasant societies are part of a large society
    • It is part of an empire, or a nation state
    • Anthropologists have long debated just what it is a part of
  • 3. Defining Peasants: Wolf’s Fund Metaphor
    • The funding metaphor
    • Primitive Cultivators and Peasants both must meet a
    • Caloric fund (food, other necessities)
    • Replacement fund (seeds, house repair)
    • Ceremonial fund (life change, solidarity)
    • Peasants
    • Subject to domain of state
    • Rent fund (taxes, tribute, forced labor)
  • 4. Peasants and Primitive Cultivators: Caloric Fund
    • Both peasants and primitive cultivators must provide for a caloric fund
    • Both have to provide enough to sustain a living according to local definition of what constitutes a livelihood.
    • His emphasis is on an agrarian population
    • Contrast: Raymond Firth would define Tikopian (south Pacific islanders) fisherman as peasants.
  • 5. Peasants and Primitive Cultivators: Replacement Fund
    • Both peasants and primitive cultivators must provide for next year’s crop
    • Generally, that means saving the seeds of the best crop for next year
    • By extension, replacement fund involves repairing shelter, replacing a broken pot, or attending to the birth of a calf
    • Therefore, it has to be regarded as a metaphor
  • 6. Peasants and Primitive Cultivators: Ceremonial Fund
    • Every society has a ceremonial fund
    • There are rites of passage in most societies, weddings among almost all, and funerals
    • There may be other ceremonial festivals: religious festivals in Mesoamerica, first fruits ceremonies in spring of every year
    • These promote the solidarity of a community
  • 7. Peasants: Provision of a Fund of Rent
    • Peasants are subject to the domain of a state
    • This connection eliminate the autonomy that primitive cultivators enjoy
    • This domain obliges the peasant to provide for a fund of rent that primitive cultivators need not provide for
    • Examples: forced labor, tribute in kind, taxes in money
    • Peasant still own property, which proletarians (day laborer) do not have
  • 8. Cultural Definitions: Robert Redfield
    • Redfield and his followers defined peasantry in two terms
    • One is the Great Tradition versus the Little Tradition, in which the latter imitates the former
    • The second is the Folk-Urban Continuum, in which placement on the continuum depends on the extent of acculturation of rural communities to urban features
  • 9. Great Tradition and Little Tradition
    • “ Tradition” implies a longstanding existence of both entities and their longstanding relations
    • The culture of the rural community is a rough expression of the urban, or “great” tradition
    • Examples: religious beliefs—Balinese have a rough imitation of Hindu beliefs
    • For example, rebirth implies that the ancesfors will return to the local villages
    • Local government is a rough imitation of the national
    • Even local dress is a rough imigation of the national, as shown by this Mayan man in an outfit that recalls a 16 th century Spanish soldier’s uniform or this woman’s imitation of a Spanish lady’s dress style
  • 10. Folk-Urban Continuum
    • Redfield ordered four Yucatecan communities along a continuum
    • Urban: Merida, the capital of Yucatan
    • Town: Dzitas, a small community with many attributes of a city
    • Village: Chan Kom, “a village that chose progress
    • Tusik, a hamlet in the territory of Quintana Roo
  • 11. Points on the Folk-Urban Continuum
    • Merida has universities, a market center, connections with the national economy, and is the capital
    • Dzitas had a high school and other urban amenities, such as markets and electricity, but many folk beliefs as well
    • Chan Kom was a relatively isolated community, an elementary school, and some of the other aspects of urban life, but no electricity as yet
    • Tusik was the opposite end of the continuum, with few if any amenities and relying entirely on subsistence cultivation.
  • 12. Critique of Redfieldian Models
    • Redfieldian assumption: functionalism, in which all aspect contribute to a harmonious whole
    • All communities are tied to the larger economy in some way
    • Peasant communities are not necessarily homogeneous; often division occurs within them
    • This was the debate between Redfield and Oscar Lewis about Tepoztlan in Central Mexico
    • To Redfield, Tepoztlan was an isolated, relatively harmonious village
    • To Lewis, the community was a divided, conflict ridden community with antagonisms going back to the Mexican revolution and tensions between the caciques (“chiefs”) and the peasants.
  • 13. Models of Peasant Societies: Image of Limited Good
    • Image of Limited Good: the perception that all things useful exists in fixed amounts
    • Zero-sum game: if you use an asset for some purpose, that asset will not be available for others
    • Development programs: this perception renders any promise of increased wealth dubious to the peasant
    • Example: peasants from Tzintzuntzan in Michoacan, Mexico, were reluctant to join a pottery marketing cooperative
    • Reasoning: how could peasants hope to generate more revenue from sales in Guadalajara or Mexico City without a shrinking market elsewhere
    • That would also mean withdrawing from the local market
  • 14. Models of Peasant Society: The Dyadic Contract
    • In Tzintzuntzan, peasants make deals only on a dyadic basis
    • If you make a deal with another man, it does not involves your wife or brother
    • If the deal turns sour, you can withdraw.
    • Again there was reluctance to join a cooperative that involves a manystranded relationship
    • Withdrawal is costly if the cooperative fails or someone absconds with the funds
  • 15. Typology of Peasantry: Patron-Client Relations
    • Peasants with a feudal patron have one set of obligations
    • It involves dependence on the lord, or master, or the patron
    • Markets are limited and the patron holds a monopoly
    • Patron-client relations involve goods and services from the client in return for special favors of the patron
    • Relations between haciendas and peasants in Mesoamerica before independence are one example
    • Peasant-warlord relations in China during feudal times are another
  • 16. Typology of Peasantry: Market Relations
    • Markets allow peasants direct access to goods, services, and jobs through the market place or market mechanism
    • Some involve regional markets, where peasants have direct access to marketers from other communities on an equal basis
    • Advantage of market: larger numbers of buyers and sellers can take part and access more goods than through a personalistic system such as patrons and clients.
  • 17. Typology of Peasantry: Vertical Market Relations
    • Central places emerge to enable peasant access to manufactured products otherwise not accessible
    • This involves the use of currency, which governments issue
    • It saves bartering, or seeking one buyer after another to exchange your products
    • It also establishes control for the centralized authority to collect taxes and regulate the market
    • The state is also freed from administered trade, which can be a logistical nightmare with a large population and a large number of transactions.
  • 18. The Case Studies
    • We examine two cultures
    • The first one is the Mayan culture area, which includes Mayan peasants from Spanish colonization to the present
    • We look at the role of corporate communities and their hostile symbiotic relations with the hacienda, or landed estate
    • The second case is the Chinese village of Taitou
    • They relied on a system reliant on market towns
    • Both communities exemplify reinterpretations of religion in terms of local beliefs.