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Reclaiming the Land
The Resurgence of Rural Movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America
Rural movements have recently emerged to become some of the most important social forces in opposition to neoliberalism. From Brazil and Mexico to Zimbabwe and the Philippines, rural movements of diverse political character, but all sharing the same social basis of dispossessed peasants and unemployed workers, have used land occupations and other tactics to confront the neoliberal state. This volume brings together for the first time across three continents - Africa, Latin America and Asia - an intellectually consistent set of original investigations into this new generation of rural social movements.
These country studies seek to identify their social composition, strategies, tactics, and ideologies; to assess their relations with other social actors, including political parties, urban social movements, and international aid agencies and other institutions; and to examine their most common tactic, the land occupation, its origins, pace and patterns, as well as the responses of governments and landowners.
At a more fundamental level, this volume explores the ways in which two decades of neoliberal policy - including new land tenure arrangements intended to hasten the commodification of land, and new land uses linked to global markets -- have undermined the social reproduction of the rural labour force and created the conditions for popular resistance. The volume demonstrates the longer-term potential impact of these movements. In economic terms, they raise the possibility of tackling immiseration by means of the redistribution of land and the reorganisation of production on a more efficient and socially responsible basis. And in political terms, breaking the power of landowners and transnational capital with interests in land could ultimately open the way to an alternative pattern of capital accumulation and development.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'This is a very important book which rows against the current. According to the dominant liberal paradigm, capitalist expansion has already abrogated (or is abrogating) the agrarian question, organising the transfer of labour to urban activities and modernising the rural sector, such that land reform programmes have become obsolete. The cases precisely studied in the book, covering Africa, Asia and Latin America, show that actually it is not so. On the contrary, imperialism appears thoroughly unable to resolve the agrarian question and to respond to the challenge of growing social dislocation. That structural failure is one of the major sources of growing poverty, as well as progressive political mobilisation in the countryside.'
Samir Amin, director, Third World Forum, Dakar
'This remarkable book is a much welcome contribution to our understanding of the nature and dilemmas posed by recent capitalist development in rural areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The essays collected in this volume combine in-depth analyses of the political dynamics unleashed in the countryside by a host of very powerful social movements with a careful survey of the cleavages and ruptures produced by the harsh introduction of neoliberal policies. The reader will gain access to a wider and deeper understanding of all the complexities of the agrarian question under the impact of neoliberal globalisation from an analytical perspective in which sound social science research fruitfully combines with the impassioned visions of rural activism.'
Atilio Boron, executive secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, Buenos Aires
'This book is a good read for anyone interested in understanding how rural social movements are organizing, evolving, and changing in the current global neo-liberal context.'
Isabella Kenfield, University of California