a1 Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Colorado
As the developing world modernises and traditionally excluded groups seek to take part in their societies, the political activity of the peasantry assumes an ever-increasing importance. Yet most scholarship has focused on the more spectacular forms of political action such as rebellion. In recent years some scholars have turned their attention to the other extreme of everyday resistance,1 but such contributions are still limited in number. This paper utilises an inclusive view of peasant politics and takes the position that all kinds of peasant political action are different parts of one whole, such that a similarity of motivation lies behind them all. It concentrates upon a category of political action that falls between rebellion and everyday resistance: organised, non-violent peasant protest. It studies these alternative forms of political action within a political system which is relatively open to such tactics. The story which emerges reveals that by resorting to non-violent protest, peasants can make a positive contribution to their societies and improve their own welfare. In developing this argument the paper links the study of non-violent protest to existing theories and research on peasant violence and everyday resistance. In doing so it argues that the explanations for riot and rebellion given in the moral economy theory, and which underlie acts of everyday resistance, also help to account for collective, non-violent peasant political activity.