ABSTRACT

One of the ironies informing the study of peasants over the past three decades is that, while there exist a plethora of analyses of both the peasantry and the state, there is still no adequate theory of the relationship between them as formed and changed over time. Numerous monographs chronicle the history of the state in terms of its formation/support/reproduction as a macro-level political institution, or of the peasantry as a socio-economic category with (or without) a history in specific microlevel situations/contexts, but-except when peasant and state are engaged in violent conflict (with one another or against a third party)—neither feature in each other’s history except peripherally as a fleeting appearance in someone else’s ‘grand’ narrative.1 This is why the first part of this article briefly examines the debate on the state, evaluating diverse views and arguments in terms of their adequacy in explaining peasant-state relations in Latin America.