Call for Papers: Rural History 2017 Panel - From Peasant Studies to Environmental History: a Comparative Reflection about Theoretical Perspectives and Objects of Study in Rural History

RHN 100/2016 | Call

Organisers: Alba Díaz Geada (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and Mats Morell (Uppsala University, Sweden)
11-14 September 2017, Leuven, Belgium

Panel at the Rural History 2017 Conference:
From Peasant Studies to Environmental History: a Comparative Reflection about Theoretical Perspectives and Objects of Study in Rural History

Rural History or Agrarian History, as well as other categories used to segment historical knowledge, have experienced important changes in relation to the dominant theoretical perspectives and thematic of study. The interest in the long term “agrarian question” and the relevance of “peasant studies” in the seventies, motivated by the deep transformations in rural societies and by the political role of popular rural classes, was abandoned for a progressive focus in another type of questions, such as “everyday politics”, commodity studies, food sovereignty or gender studies. Diverse approximations from environmental history situated equally the environmental factors in the center of the interpretation. Theoretical changes and modifications of the objects of study were shaped in relation to the consolidation and reconfigurations of capitalism from Post-World War II and are related to the abandonment of Marxists theoretical perspectives and the increasing weight of diverse postmodern and eclectic approaches during last decades. After the “end of the peasants” and the end of peasant revolutions, dominant perspectives in History and other social sciences have changed.

Our aim in this session is to reflect on the theoretical transformations in the construction of the historical knowledge by social scientists, in their reasons and in their implications. We propose a collective and comparative dialogue articulated from different cultural and historiographical traditions. We will welcome reflections built from diverse experiences and territories and elaborate both from specific historiographical essays and from case-study investigations that motivated historiographical considerations about how to approach the transformations of contemporary rural societies. Through this session we would like to promote a collaborative conversation in order to analyze the causes, meanings and consequences of the changes in the objects of study and the dominant and marginal perspectives in Rural History. Those changes have been closely interconnected with social, cultural, economic and political transformations in contemporary societies that had a consequent reflection on the historical mirror projected by social scientists from their different presents. This collective discussion will help us to increase our knowledge on the historical processes that displace the questions from peasants to environment, food or commodities; from social transformation (or revolutionary and counter-revolutionary modernizations) to food sovereignty and environmental consciousness.

If you are interested please contact Alba Díaz Geada ( and Mats Morell (