ABSTRACT

Over the past decade, those with a passing intellectual acquaintance with peasants and peasant movements in Latin America might be forgiven for making two assumptions: that the only rural agency south of the Rio Grande was confined to the state of Chiapas in Mexico, and that the only analyses of agrarian mobilization were being written by postmodern theorists.1 As the contributions to this volume attest, neither of these assumptions is correct. What is undeniable, however, is the extent to which the study of peasants, peasant movements and agrarian transformation in Latin America during the latter part of the twentieth century has undergone a profound change. Like their counterparts in Asia, peasants and rural workers in Latin America are, we are constantly informed, not what they were once thought to be, nor is their agency designed to attain the objectives previously attributed to them. In rural Latin America, therefore, just as everywhere else nowadays, new movements are said to be emerging, composed of new rural subjects exercising new forms of agency in keeping with apolitical ‘new’ postmodern populist objectives.