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.

chapter 1|11 pages


The Peasant in Each of Us1

chapter 2|22 pages

New Frontiers

From the First Peasants to Early Agrarian States

chapter 3|27 pages

Extending Frontiers

Agrarian Empires and Their Peasants

chapter 4|26 pages

Interconnecting Frontiers

Imperial Growth, Commercial Expansion and the Peasantization of the World

chapter 5|26 pages

Intensifying Frontiers

The Territorialization of Peasantries and the Final Enclosure

chapter 6|18 pages

Globalizing Frontiers

The Reform of Peasantries in a Neoliberal World

chapter 7|11 pages

The End of Frontiers

The Past and the Future of Peasants