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Peasants? Smallholders? Farmers? Undoing and redoing categories for people working in agriculture through ethnography 
Lisa Francesca Rail (University of Vienna)
Laura Kuen (Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences)
André Thiemann (Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences)
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Tuesday 23 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Not only food producers use loaded designations that highlight certain features of their agricultural practices over others; so do social movements, legal systems, or grant regulations. This panel addresses the discrepancy between common terms for agricultural occupations and the realities we study.

Long Abstract:

What is considered a small farm in the region you study? Would it be two hectares or one hundred? Would it feed four cows or eighty? Would caring for an orchard and a few goats make someone a farmer or gardener; a smallholder or land-worker; a peasant, herdswoman, or rural entrepreneur? What is subsistence farming, peasant agriculture, or a family farm? Such terms not only represent material realities: they also shape them. Analytic categories pinpoint distinctive features of agricultural practices yet veil others and blur differences in scale and scope. Peasant agriculture evokes extensive, pre-industrial agriculture – but what about four hectares of grassland worked with a modern tractor and hay-dryer? Family farming creates images of self-sufficiency – but might it also show hired labour or wage dependency? Agricultural practices are highly diverse and entangled with multiple histories and occupations. Most do not match policy distinctions between market-oriented professional enterprises, independent self-subsistence, and cultural landscaping. Not only do food producers use loaded designations to categorise agricultural practices, but so do political movements, legal systems, and grant regulations. In a field charged with numerous normative images and blind spots, which terms do we choose? This panel confronts the mismatch between the common designations defining agricultural occupations and practices, and the ethnographic realities we study. We invite ethnographic papers that address the difficulties in conceptualizing farming across the globe. By sharing our working solutions, we jointly scrutinize the political, economic, and epistemic implications of how analytical terms shape our thinking and writing.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -