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Peasant rebellions are uncommon. "Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance" explores peasants' foot dragging, feigned ingorance, false compliance, manipulation, flight, slander, theft, arson, sabotage, and similar prosaic forms of struggle. These kinds of resistance stop well short of collective defiance, a strategy usually suicidal for the subordinate. The central argument about peasant resistance is presented in the opening chapter by James Scott in which he summarizes and extends the thesis of his book on Malaysia's peasantry, "Weapons of the Weak". Scott's ideas are employed and refined in the ensuing seven country studies of peasant resistance: Poland, India, Egypt, Colombia, China, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe.
As the tale unfolds, a witch boy tarries in a mountain community in love with a beautiful girl named Barbara Allen. The superstitious townspeople resent their happiness and their subsequent meddling ends in violence and tragedy. This play was proclaimed a Broadway hit.
"Play fool, to catch wise."--proverb of Jamaican slaves Confrontations between the powerless and powerful are laden with deception--the powerless feign deference and the powerful subtly assert their mastery. Peasants, serfs, untouchables, slaves, laborers, and prisoners are not free to speak their minds in the presence of power. These subordinate groups instead create a secret discourse that represents a critique of power spoken behind the backs of the dominant. At the same time, the powerful also develop a private dialogue about practices and goals of their rule that cannot be openly avowed. In this book, renowned social scientist James C. Scott offers a penetrating discussion both of the public roles played by the powerful and powerless and the mocking, vengeful tone they display off stage--what he terms their public and hidden transcripts. Using examples from the literature, history, and politics of cultures around the world, Scott examines the many guises this interaction has taken throughout history and the tensions and contradictions it reflects. Scott describes the ideological resistance of subordinate groups--their gossip, folktales, songs, jokes, and theater--their use of anonymity and ambiguity. He also analyzes how ruling elites attempt to convey an impression of hegemony through such devices as parades, state ceremony, and rituals of subordination and apology. Finally, he identifies--with quotations that range from the recollections of American slaves to those of Russian citizens during the beginnings of Gorbachev's glasnost campaign--the political electricity generated among oppressed groups when, for the first time, the hidden transcript is spoken directly and publicly in the face of power. His landmark work will revise our understanding of subordination, resistance, hegemony, folk culture, and the ideas behind revolt.
James C. Scott has researched and written on subaltern groups, and, in particular, peasants, rebellion, resistance, and agriculture, for over 35 years. Yet much of Scott’s most interesting work on the peasantry and the state, both conceptually and empirically, has never been published in book form. For the first time Decoding Subaltern Politics: Ideology, Disguise, and Resistance in Agrarian Politics, brings together some of his most important work in one volume. The book covers three distinct yet interlinked bodies of work. The first lays out a framework for understanding peasant politics and rebellion, much of which is applicable to rural areas of the contemporary global south. Scott then goes on to develop his arguments regarding everyday forms of peasant resistance using the comparative example of the religious tithe in France and Malaysia, and tracing the forms of resistance that cover their own tracks and avoid direct clashes with authorities. For much of the world’s population, and for most of its history, this sort of politics was far more common than the violent clashes that dominate the history books, and in this book one can examine the anatomy of such resistance in rich comparative detail. Finally, Scott explores how the state’s increasing grip on its population: its identity, land-holding, income, and movements, is a precondition for political hegemony. Crucially, in examining the invention of state-mandated legal identities, especially, the permanent patronym and the vagaries of its imposition on vernacular life, Scott lays bare the micro-processes of state-formation and resistance. Written by one of the leading social theorists of our age, Decoding Subaltern Politics: Ideology, Disguise, and Resistance in Agrarian Politicsis an indispensible guide to the study of subaltern culture and politics and is essential reading for political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists and historians alike.
Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry? In a wide-ranging and original study, James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. He argues that centrally managed social plans derail when schematic visions are imposed on long-established structures without taking into account preexisting interdependencies.
"James Scott is one of the great political thinkers of our time. No one else has the same ability to pursue a simple, surprising idea, kindly but relentlessly, until the entire world looks different. In this book, he also demonstrates a skill shared by the greatest radical thinkers: to reveal positions we've been taught to think of as extremism to be emanations of simple human decency and common sense."--David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years "Building on the insights of his masterful Seeing Like a State, James Scott has written a powerful and important argument for social organization that resists the twin poles of Big Corporations and Big Governments. In an age increasingly shaped by decentralized, bottom-up networks, Two Cheers for Anarchism gives timely new life to a rich tradition of political thought."--Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age "I am a big fan of James Scott. In this highly readable and thought-provoking book, he reveals the meaning of his 'anarchist' sensibility through a series of wonderful personal stories, staking out an important position and defending it in a variety of contexts, from urban planning to school evaluation. I don't know of anyone else who has defined this viewpoint so successfully."--Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order "The ambition of this book is compelling and contagious. Combining the populist rhetoric of Thomas Paine with the ferocious satire of Jonathan Swift, James Scott makes a wonderfully simple and potent argument in favor of mutualism, creativity, local knowledge, and freedom. I predict that this will become one of the most influential books in political theory and public debate for the twenty-first century."--Georgi Derluguian, author of Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus
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