Virtual Special Issue: 40 Classics in Peasant Studies The Journal of Peasant Studies: Critical Perspectives on Rural Politics and Development

The Journal of Peasant Studies

The Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS) was founded in 1973 on the initiative of Terence J. Byres. The first JPS editors were Byres, Charles Curwen and Teodor Shanin. In their inaugural editorial note, the editors declared:

“As little as ten years ago, there were very few studies of peasantries; since then interest has grown, but we are still remarkably ignorant about many fundamental problems of peasant societies… Our intention in starting this new quarterly journal is to provide a permanent forum and focus for the rapidly growing interest in peasant studies in many countries and disciplines, and to encourage the scientific study of peasantries, both contemporary and historical… We hope that the Journal of Peasant Studies will be of outstanding interest to social scientists and other scholars; but we also hope that it will interest and inform the increasing number of people outside the academic field who are conscious of the importance of this huge section of mankind.”

JPS is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, 2013. The founding editors’ dream of an academically excellent and politically relevant journal has been accomplished – and accomplished in a phenomenal way during the past four decades. In countless ways and on many occasions, JPS articles changed the boundaries of how we interpret social change, and provided tools for those who aspired to change the rural world. Many of the articles that JPS published have become classics in the field.

Part of our series of initiatives to commemorate the 40th anniversary of JPS is the publication of the virtual special issue 40 Classics in Peasant Studies.

It was not easy for the current JPS editorial team to select 40 classics for the simple reason that there are many more than 40 articles that qualify in this category. There are more than 40 articles that are world-class, have changed the parameters of how we study the agrarian world, and have enduring quality. We therefore agreed on some kind of criteria in narrowing down our original long list to our final 40 articles. Considerations include diversity in disciplines as well as the range of relevant debates across the  broad canvas of ‘peasant studies’, which meant adding in livelihoods, environment and gender themed papers, among others. We wanted to have a mix of paper types, from review pieces to theory to case studies from a range of sites. But we were confronted by a dilemma: several authors had more than one article that qualified. In cases where this occurred, we decided to select only one entry per author. The result is our current – exciting – list of 40 Classics in Peasant Studies! The articles share one common feature: they all remain extremely relevant, especially in the context of today’s massive, worldwide revival of critical agrarian studies.

The virtual special issue 40 Classics in Peasant Studies will be made available for free on the JPS website until the end of 2013. We hope academics will find the virtual special issue useful in their courses. We hope students of contemporary critical agrarian studies and critical environmental studies, among others, will find it useful in building their theoretical foundations. We hope policy practitioners will find it relevant in informing policy debates. We hope agrarian and environmental activists will find it relevant in their political struggles.

The JPS Editorial team

  • Saturnino (‘Jun’) M. Borras Jr. (Editor)
  • Amita Baviskar, Marc Edelman, Jonathan Fox, Deniz Kandiyoti, Nancy Peluso, Shahra Razavi, Ian Scoones, Kalyanakrishnan (Shivi) Sivaramakrishnan, and Wendy Wolford (Editorial Collective)
  • Elizabeth Fitting, Ruth Hall, and Ryan Isakson (2009-2012 Book Reviews Section Editors, currently members of the Advisory Board)
  • Andries du Toit, Madeleine Fairbairn, and Tony Weis (2013 – present, Book Reviews Section Editors)

25 April 2013

40 Classics in Peasant Studies