a1 University of California, Santa Cruz
In many otherwise diverse societies, owners of large agricultural estates have paid their year-round workers with the use of a piece of land on which to produce their own subsistence crops. In a “preliminary report” Magnus Morner cited some eleven examples of this system in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Although Mörner mentions different influences, he does not advance an argument to explain these systems. This essay seeks to contribute to our understanding of the political economy of these “labor rent” or “estate labor” systems. The paper is exploratory: previous approaches are considered, a theoretical framework is proposed, and some tentative hypotheses are presented. My evidence comes from three examples: the Insten system of East Elbian Germany from ca. 1750 to ca. 1860; the ‘izbah system of the Egyptian Delta from ca. 1850 to ca. 1940; and the pre-1930 inquilinaje system of Central Chile.