Rural History 2015

Panel 22

Organizers: Panjek, Aleksander (1); Beguš, Ines (1); Ratkajec, Hrvoje (1); Kalc, Aleksej (2); Lorenzetti, Luigi (3); Mocarelli, Luca (4); Tedeschi, Paolo (4); Fornasin, Alessio (5); Larsson, Jesper (6)

Affiliation: 1: University of Primorska, Slovenia; 2: Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia; 3: Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland; 4: Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy; 5: Università degli Studi di Udine, Italy; 6: Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Sweden

Title: Integrated peasant economy: the uplands of Europe compared

A renewed interest in agro-historical research has emerged; a change from the “immobile” structural characters of agrarian economy and society facing Malthusian constraints, to an early modern agriculture with a rather high degree of peasant “agency” (Sreenivasan). This renewed research focus comprehends an emphasis on the necessity of a comparative approach (Thoen – van Molle; van Bavel – Hoyle).
On the other hand there is a remarkable tradition in addressing the theme of self-sustainability of peasants. In many regions of the world the holdings were not sufficient to provide the necessary means of subsistence to the peasant households. This is a well-known and widespread characteristic especially in upland areas, where the rural population engaged in different activities apart from agriculture and animal husbandry in order to gain additional income. Often referred to as “pluriactivity”, it covered a wide range of activities; the early modern Alpine economy has for example been defined as “an integrated economy” (Coppola).
The basic assumption of this panel is that such pluriactivity was not occasional or casual. Non-agricultural sources of income represented an element in a more complex and comprehensive economic strategy of upland populations. The rural population counted on, and exploited the possibility of access to alternative activities, which allowed overcoming the limits set by environmental conditions and technological limitations. In doing so, the upland populations show a remarkable degree of economic “agency” and even “industriousness” (De Vries).
The panel aims at providing a step forward in the conceptualization of pluriactivity by moving towards the “integrated peasant economy”, meaning a system characterized by a systematic integration of agricultural and a variety of income-sources from the secondary and tertiary sectors that could sustain a population beyond the level provided by land alone. The “integrated peasant economy” was a system, characterized by maintaining a balance between different income-sources that was flexible to changes in market conditions and in the ratio between population number and available income sources. Activities could be adopted or abandoned, increased or decreased as a response to economic conjuncture or change. The composition of this income-balance as well as the involvement in single activities may be observed at the level of the whole rural economy, but should also be referred to local specificities, to social differentiation in the rural population, and to the single households.
Within the panel the applicability of the concept of “integrated peasant economy” to different upland regions of Europe will be discussed. For this purpose the panel is meant as a comparative discussion and welcomes contributions covering the preindustrial period and that of the industrialization as well as various European upland areas (e.g. Scandinavia, Pyrenees, etc.). Paper givers are expected to present regional or local cases, with empirical as well as interpretative contributions, suitable for comparison.
The panel is also meant to provide an overview over the state of research of the ongoing project “Integrated peasant economy in Slovenia in a comparative perspective”, financed by the Research


Papers (part I)

Paper 1: Economy and pluriactivity in the Alpine valleys: the case of Eastern Lombardy (end 18th – early 19th centuries) [+]

Luca Mocarelli and Paolo Tedeschi; Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Paper 2: Tourism as a source of additional rural income: the case of the Karst (16th-19th centuries)

Petra Kavrečič, University of Primorska, Slovenia

Paper 3: The importance of the commons in an integrated peasant economy in early modern Northern Scandinavia

Jesper Larsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Paper 4: Non-agricultural peasant activities in Early Modern Slovenia: a historiographical review

Ines Beguš, University of Primorska, Slovenia


Papers (part II)

Paper 5: The integrated peasant economy in Slovenia and the industrialisation process – the research questions

Hrvoje Ratkajec, University of Primorska, Slovenia; Žarko Lazarević, Institute for Contemporary History, Slovenia

Paper 6: The integrated peasant economy in the Slovenian uplands: demographic aspects and questions

Aleksej Kalc, Slovenian Migration Institute (ZRC SAZU), Slovenia

Paper 7: Resilience and change in the Cantabrian mountain productive landscapes

Margarita Fernández-Mier, Universidad de León, Spain; Jesús Fernández Fernández, La Ponte Ecomuseu, Spain; Pablo Alonso González, Institute of Heritage Sciences, Spain

Paper 8: Resilience and change in Cantabrian mountain productive landscapes

Alessandra Bulgarelli, University of Naples "Federico II", Italy


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015