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Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 11 No. 3, July 2011, pp. 277297.

Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective


CHRISTOPHER CRAMER AND PAUL RICHARDS

The bulk of analysis and commentary on violent conicts in developing countries over the past 20 years or so has neglected the dynamics and tensions of agrarian political economy. Introducing a special issue devoted to these agrarian dimensions of armed conict, non-war violence and post-war repertoires of political mobilization, this paper argues for a new research and policy agenda. In doing so, we revive some older analytical approaches and suggest that they can refresh and enhance current scholarship. We argue too for a historical perspective: not simply to highlight precedents but, rather, because such a perspective helps to clarify the issues involved and their centrality to processes of rural change, as well as to show that there may be long-run continuities in patterns of conict. Bringing the agrarian back in to the study of violent conict means investigating access to land and capital and means of mobilizing labour; it means investigating changes in the institutional regulation of such access and control; and it means identifying the tensions, techniques of compulsion and modes of resistance developed around productive relations in, typically, a globalized context. Keywords: agrarian change, violence, war, political economy

INTRODUCTION Many regard the decade-long and brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, concluded in 2002, as the exemplary instance of warlord greed. At a conference in October 2003 to launch a $30 million reconstruction package, the World Bank country director Mats Karlsson offered a different perspective: [Sierra Leone] once had an agricultural sector that not only provided basic subsistence but also produced for export. Agriculture was undermined through heavy taxation via pervasive price distortions by depriving rural areas of basic social services . . . Domestic terms of trade were turned against agriculture through under-pricing of farm output by state Produce and Marketing Boards, persistent currency over-valuation and explicit subsidies on food. Public spending was concentrated in [the capital] and a few provincial centres while the limited infrastructure and social services in the rural areas decayed. Land tenure became insecure as land came to be allocated in line with the political goals of the one-party state. These policies caused a huge redistribution of income from the rural population to the non-poor, alienating rural inhabitants and creating fertile grounds for the ensuing conict, which virtually destroyed what remained of agriculture. (IRIN News Service 2003)
Christopher Cramer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK. E-mail: cc10@soas.ac.uk Paul Richards, Technology and Agrarian Development group, University of Wageningen, P.O. Box 9101, 6700 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands. E-mail: paul.richards@wur.nl We thank the editors of the Journal of Agrarian Change for enticing us to put together this special issue, and for their patience and support during the process.We also thank the authors of the contributions and the anonymous reviewers. 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

278 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards In short, the war in Sierra Leone was, in Mr Karlssons view, the product of systematic exploitation of the countryside. It fed off rural impoverishment and agrarian despair. A postwar study has shown that the bulk of the ghters were rural in background (Humphreys and Weinstein 2004). In this volume, Peters and Richards add the information that the Sierra Leone rebel movement had its own populist agenda for agrarian reform (2011, this issue). So even the poster-child for greed not grievance theories of post-Cold War armed conict, it turns out, embodied the sentiments of peasant revolt. Why have researchers paid so little attention to the possible agrarian roots of current civil wars? Research and analysis of violent conict in developing countries has adjusted the depth of eld in the post-Cold War era to focus more sharply on categories such as ethnicity, inequalities (vertical and horizontal), poverty and unemployment, mineral resource endowment, elite bargains, economic opportunities and so on. Other relevant dimensions are lost in a blur of inattention. Seemingly, topics associated with worn-out explanations from the Cold War period are dumped in a rush to nd new and ingenious causes of the worlds ills. The contributions to this special issue may help to bring back into sharper focus one of those older, and now neglected, dimensions: the agrarian roots and dynamics of violent conicts. For the evidence shows that much recent and ongoing violent conict has roots in, and is shaped by, agrarian structures, relations and change. And processes of agrarian structural change are themselves inherently conictual and frequently violent. Paying more attention to these dimensions may not only enrich our understanding of variations among violent conicts, but may also contribute to more appropriate attempts to intervene through mediation, conict resolution, post-conict reconstruction and peace-building initiatives. For as Vellema et al. (2011, this issue) argue, with regard to the case of violent rural conict in the Philippines, externally sponsored peace negotiations in Mindanao, as well as being undermined by arbitrary and externally imposed deadlines, risk failure partly because of their lack of appreciation of the deep historical roots of agrarian change and patterns of labour mobilization, illicit accumulation strategies and population changes. How far the shift of analytical focus has captured a change in reality from principled to predatory wars or one of perception is still in doubt, despite effective critiques of the new wars thesis (Kalyvas 2001). This special issue suggests that the shift in perception has certainly accounted for a failure adequately to assess the social and agrarian roots of violent conicts. Class analysis generally, wrote Buijtenhuijs (2000, 118), and peasant wars more specically, ceased to be fashionable topics in academic circles. Instead, social scientists have tended to see the underlying motivation for wars in developing countries in terms of ethnic chauvinism or individual pecuniary gain (ibid., 120). This shift has possibly been most marked in the literature on sub-Saharan Africa, where the imagery of conict has replaced the principled peasant of Zimbabwean or Mozambican liberation struggles, or the aggrieved forest guerrillas of the Mau Mau, with mindless loose molecules of West African insurgencies (Kaplan 1994) or the hyped and globally branded Somali warlord gangsters. However, it may also be in sub-Saharan Africa that the materials have accumulated for a renewed interest in social structure, class relations, agrarian change and their relevance to the origins, forms and trajectories of violence and conict over the range of the peacewarpeace or no peace/no war continuum. Mkandawire (2002) argued that one reason for the frequently extreme violence of African insurgents might be that they were essentially urban groups with urban agendas who, because of an unfavourable balance of forces in the cities and major towns, were forced to roam an unfamiliar countryside where the population was not typically eager to rebel.Therefore, African rebels may nd it difcult to swim among shes, as Maos dictum would have it; instead, they
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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 279 easily become roving bandits, living off predation and extreme violence. Against this view, Ellis (2003) argued that in most African conicts there has been a less than clear distinction between urban and rural areas:one could perhaps generalize by saying that it is probable that many rebel groups operating in recent years have been composed of people from both city and village or, more likely, of people who have spent much of their lives in between the two and cannot be easily described as either city people or village people (Ellis 2003, 462). Literature on Cold War-era sub-Saharan African conicts has included exploration of the agrarian context for and implications of such conicts (e.g. Kriger 1991; OLaughlin 1996;Wuyts 2003), while literature on more recent conicts has also revived interest in the agrarian dimensions of violent conict in Africa (Besteman 1996, 1999; Chauveau and Richards 2008). Some of the papers in this special issue take this agenda further, especially by emphasizing historical continuities and connections. Munive (2011, this issue) traces the origins of wartime recruitment and militia hierarchies in Liberia in pre-war institutional patterns of labour mobilization in the rural hinterland. Peters and Richards (2011, this issue) add to the existing literature on rural social dynamics in Sierra Leone by exploring a longer term set of historical processes linking slave-based mercantilism, colonial indirect rule, rural rebellion and post-civil war reconstruction with current international investment in land and mineral extraction. And Verwimp (2011, this issue) seeks to complement contrasting explanations of the pre-1994 massacres in Rwanda with an exploration of the hitherto neglected crisis of a rural developmentalist ideology in which there was no place for lingering pastoralist communities. If classic wars of greed such as that in Sierra Leone turn out to have deep roots in rural social crisis, how much more should we be looking to the agrarian roots and dimensions of a complex crisis that embroils Afghanistan and Pakistan, or those of the conict spreading across the central forest region in India? It hardly needs to be added that the Latin American war on drugs is in effect a war against an agrarian mode of production. Thomson (2011, this issue) explores narcotics production within the larger and longer-term context of coercive development and conict in Colombia. Elsewhere, as in Mindanao, for example (Vellema et al. 2011, this issue), narcotics production becomes a form of renegade capitalism, in the shadows of and set against the ofcial shaping of a relatively recent property-rights regime dominated by Christian outsiders to the islands. The drama of the narcoticssecuritydevelopment nexus may be captured in the idea that, in Afghanistan, opium is the development of the people. Opium poppy production and processing in Afghanistan, a sectoral surge that largely owed into insecure spaces rather than creating insecurity, has had substantive consequences for the organization and control of land, participation in rural wage labour markets, and the emergence of a sophisticated primary commodity-processing, export-oriented industry. Prices are to some extent buoyed not by product differentiation, branding or a speciality market as, say, for coffee but by a market structure shaped by illegality. Though narcotics production does not directly generate government tax revenue, it is arguable that in some areas opium acts as an adhesive of local political settlements, while also generating jobs, foreign exchange, and fuelling the licit economy through invested surpluses and money traded by the Hawaladar (Goodhand and Manseld 2010). BRINGING THE AGRARIAN BACK IN What, though, do we understand by the agrarian roots of violent conict? First, the analytical and empirical focus needs to swing to rural areas and communities rather than remaining xed on national level data in cross-country datasets, or on the rational individual devoid of a social
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280 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards or spatial context. Indeed, there is increasing interest in the spatial dimensions of violent conict. Nathan (2005) points to evidence that most civil wars in the Uppsala Conict Data Project dataset are not actually located in areas characterized by natural resource extraction.The Armed Conict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED) shows how geographically more precise datasets may be assembled at the cross-country level (Raleigh et al. 2010). ACLED data also help to challenge some of the causal (often, in fact, only correlative) claims made in the literature on violent conicts in developing countries.1 It is precisely this focus on the signicance of where violence occurs and the need to account for the where that Verwimp (2011, this issue) brings to his analysis of massacres in Rwanda in the early 1990s, highlighting the role of paysannat settlement schemes in particular. Beyond geography, studying the agrarian dimensions of violent conicts involves seeing how access to and control of land and labour, as well as nancial capital, is shaped by social structures and relations, including class, gender and age. Moreover, such studies point to changes in these structures and relations, which in turn pose threats to established and institutionalized patterns of access and control. These changes may be driven by demographic pressures and increasing land scarcity, sometimes articially accelerated by new forms of foreign investment (Peters and Richards 2011, this issue) or by immigration and shifts in labour markets, or greater integration into global markets. Central to most of these changes, and the tensions they may generate, are policies: policies regulating property rights, investment in rural infrastructure, establishing sectoral change in productive activities and so on. Agrarian activity is concerned with cultivation (any kind of care for and production of crops or domestic animals), and typically requires access to land, as well as labour, capital and technology. The requirements for land, and the specic kinds of skill required to manage and maintain land successfully, often give to agrarian studies a distinctive cast; for example, a concern with ecological factors (climate, soils, seeds, animals, diseases etc.) not found in other areas of economic or social analysis. Typically, agrarian analysis looks at the ways in which cultivating and non-cultivating classes (e.g. farmers and farm labourers on the one hand, and merchants and those who live from rents on land) combine or compete in constituting the economic and social systems of agrarian society. Transitions are a particular focus of analytical concern for example, from subsistence to feudal or capitalist, market-based relations of production since these more readily lay bare the tensions and contradictions associated with specic agrarian social formations. Agrarian conicts are focused on land (including issues of tithes, rents and taxes), and on the division of labour in cultivation (including struggles over the technologies through which labour is applied to land). Agrarian struggle in late medieval/early modern Europe allied serfs, peasants, modernizing tenants and merchants against a rentier aristocracy that formed the backbone of state power (as instanced by the English peasants revolt of 1381; Dobson 1970). More recently, agrarian struggle has assumed new transnational forms in the past ve centuries or more, as vast tracts of land in the New World, the Tropics and the Southern Hemisphere have been taken into cultivation via settler colonialism and Great Power imperialism. During this time, agricultural commodities have increasingly been produced and traded on an intercontinental scale, a process that continues in the twenty-rst century. The commodication of people, as chattel slaves, and the trading of these slaves over huge distances to supply labour to tropical plantations for sugar, cotton and coffee from the fteenth century was a key aspect of agro-globalization. Agrarian struggle continues to be marked by
1 Explanations for conict onset and diffusion appear to be contingent on the scale at which research is undertaken (Raleigh et al. 2010, 652).

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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 281 these divergent international legacies. Peasants in parts of Asia and Latin America wrestle with plantations and agribusiness, while African cultivators continue to manifest hostility towards the mercantile ruling elites whose founders built their wealth from slave recruitment. The need to incorporate the rich literature on the history of agrarian struggles into debates about post-Cold War violent conict seems as obvious as its neglect, in favour of factors such as criminality, drugs and diamonds, seems surprising. Below, we expand on the relevance to contemporary conicts of a history of slavery and marronage. Large-N studies of the causes of armed conict in poor countries did not begin with the work of economists arguing over resource curse explanations for post-Cold War conict. The approach was already well established in agrarian studies. On the basis of a statistical analysis of the livelihood of social movements engaging in armed violence in 70 agrarian commodity exporting countries over the period 194568, Paige (1975) decided that the data supported two basic scenarios for violent agrarian struggle. Conict was most likely, he concluded, in conditions where cash crops were produced either by decentralized sharecropping or long-distance labour migration. In both scenarios, a non-cultivating upper class lacked resources or support to assert control over an increasingly well-organized agrarian workforce, whose leaders were then able to make a bid for state power. In both cases, he argued, the land-owning class lacked signicant links with industrial or nance capital. With little scope to diversify or redistribute wealth, this class had little option than to ght for the land. Thereafter, however, there were signicant differences between the two cases. In the sharecropping case, the market splits the traditional agrarian social structure along class lines and the agricultural workers are progressively converted into a rural proletariat (Paige 1975, 120). Lacking scope for individual economic action, this proletariat then turns to collective political action, and an organized working class . . . confronts an economically weak and politically rigid upper class . . ., resulting in revolutionary war. Although the migratory labour estate system shared with the sharecropping system the economic weakness and political rigidity of the estate owners and their dependence on land as their only source of income (ibid., 121) the migrant labourer, Paige suggests, is less susceptible to proletarian modes of mobilization. Plantation workers return to distant rural homes, seasonally or at the end of contracts, and depend (in these distant homes) on customary institutional arrangements. Chiefs and traders are their allies in securing land and credit. Mobilization for political action takes the form of support for the political ambitions of a nationalist elite of chiefs, merchants and minor functionaries. Violence is directed against planters, but it reects communal rather than class-based ties, and a nationalist rather than a socialist regime eventuates (ibid., 121). Paige then offers the insurgency in Vietnam as an instance of the rst scenario, and the anti-settler uprising in Angola in the early 1960s as an instance of the second. Both conicts subsequently attracted Cold War superpower involvement, resulting in long and complex wars. These later developments should not be allowed to obscure their agrarian roots. The purpose of our present volume is to ask to what extent agrarian factors continue to play a part in shaping conicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America beyond the end of the Cold War. Can we peer through the fog of international Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan or greed-not-grievance in Sierra Leone to grasp the nature of agrarian tensions shaping these wars? AGRARIAN CONFLICTS IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Clearly, there is more to a historical perspective than the ve years before civil war onset that arbitrarily enters into statistical analysis of many such wars. It is not possible sensibly to analyse
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282 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards electoral violence in Kenya without appreciating the long-run effects of colonial policy, anti-colonial uprisings and post-colonial manipulation of resettlement schemes. Understanding the early phases of anti-colonial struggle and later phases of war in Angola is limited without knowledge of the history of Bakongo political organization and its persistence through Portuguese colonialism. Nor can wars in Central America be explained without appreciating the long-run history of, and shifts in, liberal ideologies and collective struggles; or to account for violence in the Philippine islands without acknowledging a long history of settlement, identity formation, conquest and expropriation, resettlement, and contested agrarian property rights and production regimes. In short, agrarian issues involve economic resources, structures and incentives as well as the effects of price shocks but cannot be reduced to these factors, and certainly not in straightforward individualist ways. Social relations, political histories, the forging of collective norms and ideals and the evolution of ideologies all inuence how agrarian challenges are addressed, what responses they generate, what forms of conict and protest emerge, and the salience of violence within these conicts. There is, meanwhile, a longer history of peasant uprisings and agrarian conicts to which more recent experiences may be connected and with which they may be contrasted. An instructive instance in this literature is the English Peasant Revolt a dramatic and violent insurrection by peasants and yeomen farmers of Kent and Essex in 1381 (Dobson 1970). The insurrectionists were driven by a mix of resentment at attempts to hold down rural wages in the face of labour shortages caused by the Black Death and the new cultural and religious aspirations associated with the Reformation and the New Learning. A sentiment from one of the instigators of the revolt the Lollard preacher, John Ball, in his sermon at Blackheath retains universal resonance: when Adam delved and Eve span who then was the gentleman. Even excluding the long history of pre-capitalist violent conicts, there are important antecedents to violent agrarian transitions in developing countries.The American Civil War was a national conict rooted in a struggle over the institutions for controlling access to labour. The Reconstruction period after the war was in many ways a losers peace (Suhrke 2011): the Norths military victory was followed by an intense and often violent political conict in the South, as Southern groups fought to reverse the abolition of slavery and extension of the vote to blacks (Foner 2002; Leman 2006). The latter part of the nineteenth century was characterized by ongoing efforts to protect institutionalized privileges in ownership of productive assets and in access to cheap labour.This was not simply a matter of a slaveholding class of plantation owners resisting Northern reconstruction ideals of 40 acres and a mule racial democracy and liberalism. Rather, fundamentally vicious forms of labour control (through convict labour, for example) persisted in modernizing sectors of the economy (Lichtenstein 1996). And industrial violence in rural areas in the late nineteenth century in the form of timber machine or textile loom injuries to workers was intense enough to form the focus for far-reaching legal and social changes, such as the shaping of ideas of and laws to protect against child labour (Schmidt 2010). Avner Offer (1989) demonstrates the importance of the agrarian dimension of the First World War. Offer makes the overall point (one we endorse) that economics alone never started any war, and that wars must be explained by examining the war projects of relevant agents. Economic rationality (he suggests) will generally be an aspect, but alongside emotion (and emotional miscalculation), and desire for the approval of others, sometimes to the extent of overcoming the demands of self-interest:2
2 This is not too far removed from Clausewitzs trinity of factors behind wars. On the Clausewitzian trinity, and on the Freud/Einstein correspondence on emotions and other factors behind war, see Cramer (2006).

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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 283 Economic factors do not declare war by themselves.They have to be perceived and acted upon . . . This study stresses two empirical aspects of rational action. First, the pursuit of goals is affected by a number of regular, recurrent failings . . . bounded rationality and intuitive reasoning. Second, economic advantage is often traded for social approbation. We may sacrice our own ends to win the approval of others. (Offer 1989, 12)3 His book applies this insight to the Great War, and in so doing teases out an important and under-appreciated agrarian element.4 The Great War was (of course) a hugely complex structure of interlocked conicts, with multiple theatres, phases and causes. Perhaps no explanation could or should aspire to comprehensiveness. Offer avoids any such temptation, but concentrates instead on BritishGerman rivalry as a relatively distinct aspect. He argues that Britain in the nineteenth century beneted from free trade, but suggests (contra Friedman and the Chicago School) that free trade always requires a policeman. The policeman in the nineteenth century had been the British navy. By the dawn of the Edwardian era, British naval supremacy had come under question, and alternative strategies were devised. Joseph Chamberlain attempted to advance British colonial protectionism against Germany, but found it hard to get the notion of imperial preference past a sceptical British electorate at a time of rising food prices. The Chamberlain strategy was picked up by others (notably, as the Atlantic Orientation of Admiral John Fisher and Maurice Hankey) and became the basis of their plan to deter the Germans from warmongering by means of a threatened naval blockade. Specically, the British navy would protect dominion food supplies coming into Britain while disrupting German overseas food supplies and exports. The Dominion territories were in effect the overseas agrarian extension of the UK, and this agrarian advantage, combined with British naval power, was supposed to communicate to the Germans that they could never win a war of aggression. In the event the deterrent failed, because its logic was not made clear enough to the German High Command, who continued to ignore the agrarian imbalance of power and to develop strategies of land war focused on France (blitzkrieg on Paris). Nonetheless, the agrarian/naval logic of the Fisher/Hankey plan determined the fate of the conict. It was not German military resolve that gave way in November 1918, but growing civilian resentment at food shortages caused by import difculties. The agrarian factor was both an important element in explaining the start of the Great War (through German miscalculation concerning the deterrent value of the threatened blockade as a weapon of war) and a direct determinant of its end (by undermining German civilian morale). This seems an exemplary explanation in terms of its willingness to include appropriate economic variables, while also conceding that economic variables can only be an element in a fuller explanation of how wars start and end.This fuller explanation must also take into account (inter alia) the miscalculations and short-sightedness of generals and politicians, organizational dimensions, and societal mood and morale, together with nationalist ideologies and international pretensions. The Second World War too had its agrarian dimensions, nationally (the concerted push to increase and change the composition of agricultural output in the UK) and internationally. Colonial governments encouraged African farmer productivity to a degree they had not done before, aiming to increase food supplies to the UK in the context of an acute dollar shortage. But such policies, in Kenya, for example, had important longer-run consequences. The later, postwar assault on an emerging African agrarian capitalist class in Kenya fed rising political
3 4

For a similar argument in the context of a critique of the economic perspective on terrorism, see Cramer (2011). This and the following two paragraphs draw on Offer (1989).

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284 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards resentment of the colonial government. This then became one of the complex causes of the Mau Mau uprising. As Throup (1987, 11) explains, the Mau Mau movement was: an alliance between three groups of discontented Kikuyu: the urban unemployed and destitute; dispossessed squatters from the White Highlands; and poor peasants, tenants and members of the junior lineages of mbari (sub-clans) in the Kikuyu reserves who had endured the second colonial occupation, particularly the communal terracing campaign, at the moment they were being transformed into a landless rural proletariat as the senior lineages attempted to establish their exclusive access to land. The Mau Mau rebellion is one of the most renowned of the anti-colonial uprisings. Less well understood but just as momentous was the 1961 uprising in Angola against Portuguese colonial rule. This was a conict shaped by, and in which the protagonists were constrained by, agrarian relations and structures control of access to land, capital and labour. It was one of the case studies in Paiges (1975) Agrarian Revolution. Paige outlined a set of hypotheses about the political implications of variations in relations between cultivators and non-cultivators in export agriculture. His work was notable for its attention to different export commodities and the implications of their productive, technical requirements. Agrarian Revolution is also notable for integrating historical and anthropological data with large-N cross-country and case-study statistical analysis. Paige is struck by the fact that the earliest upsurge of violence is found not in districts immediately adjacent to the border, but in those districts where coffee planting, by Portuguese immigrants, is most intense. He develops the hypothesis that conditions and grievances associated with coffee planting, not external nationalist agitation, are the immediate cause of a revolt, later taken over for its own purposes by the UPC, led by Holden Roberto and the forerunner of the FNLA. Northern Angola in the early 1960s was changed dramatically by responses to a global coffee price boom and the expansion of a migratory labour estate system.Within a decade after 1950, Angola had become one of the four largest coffee suppliers in the world. Because of the relatively late formal incorporation of the northern kingdom of Bakongo into Portuguese Angolan rule, there were still substantial vestiges of Bakongo political institutions, loyalties and practices that were important in shaping the character of the 1961 revolt, which took on tones of modern nationalist uprisings and had little explicit class-based organization or ideology. Coffee shortages during the Korean War pushed up world prices. With a lag while information about the prots to be made from Angolan coffee ltered into Portugal and stimulated a rush of migration to Angola; and while coffee bushes planted to take advantage of the price rises matured the area under coffee and the volume of Angolan coffee exports increased sharply, although this peak in the early 1960s coincided with an expansion in output by many other countries. That foreign-owned estates came to dominate the sector was not a function of the production or processing requirements of the low-grade Robusta grown in Angola. In most respects, northern Angola is more suited to relatively small-scale coffee farming. Instead, argued Paige (1975, 230), the dominance of the estates depended on the legal and political advantages of European settlers under colonial rule. Most of the northern coffee estate owners were Portuguese with a background of peasant poverty in Portugal, who had either migrated earlier and lived a marginal life as bush traders in northern Angola, or who migrated directly to take advantage of the coffee boom. Most amassed large debts in setting up their coffee businesses, and after prices fell from the late 1950s onwards they survived only on sustained government support. Their productivity was low. The economic viability of the estates rested above all on
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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 285 forced expropriation of the land of African farmers and on forced labour mobilization. A rising proportion of workers on the coffee estates were migrant contract workers recruited from the Ovimbundu central plateau. Coffee estate producers in northern Angola were constrained within an economically inefcient productive system, unable to exploit economies of scale, reliant on forced labour and, in that area, with no practical means of substituting machinery for wage labour. Any protest movement to break up estates or improve labour conditions would effectively be a zero-sum threat to the producers existence. These producers were capital-poor and had barely any economic alternatives: they depended entirely on racial/ethnic discrimination and on the politics of the colonial state. Effectively, the estate owners depended for their position on the exercise of violence (both direct and actual, and embodied in the structures of colonial policy). And that in turn limited the tactics open to an African opposition. The migratory and forced labour system precluded a class-based associational interest group among estate workers, so that the only effective organization available to direct resistance to the Portuguese was the traditional tribal structure or the communal party organization of the UPA (Paige 1975, 257): the Unio das Populaces de Angola (UPA) being the nationalist movement largely restricted to Bakongo politics and the group that was to evolve into Holden Robertos Frente Nacional de Libertao de Angola (FNLA). The fact that outside the estates land access was organized communally and by lineage also favoured a communal framework protest movement, but given the otherwise highly underdeveloped regional economy and the speed of changes in the coffee sector, there were not enough material or institutional foundations for that movement to take on a class form. Further, the fact that the organization of the coffee sector took away privileges, land and wealth from the richer Africans of the area made for greater solidarity among the African population rather than fostering sharp differentiation. Meanwhile, the military discipline on estates plus the classic ethnic divide-and-rule tactics of employers meant that migrant workers were tied more to their home villages than to fellow workers. Such were the main structural features of the northern coffee-growing areas of Angola by the beginning of the 1960s and their implications for political ties and interests. Three more immediate moments or triggers acted in this structural context to bring about the 1961 revolt that proved to be the beginning of the protracted struggle for independence in Angola. The independence of the Congo (the present DRC) in June 1960 meant that the half of the Bakongo population living in the Congo were independent while the other half, living in Angola, were still under colonial rule: Congolese independence quickened the expectations of northern Angolan nationalists. The UN took up the issue of Portuguese colonialism and scheduled a Security Council debate on Angola for March 1961. And the coffee boom turned to slump: by 1961, most northern coffee estate owners were facing huge losses and, even with government nancial support, were passing the problem on to the African population through even lower real wages and tighter labour control. Sure enough, the uprising broke out in March 1961, taking a nationalist rather than socialist revolutionary form and involving a coalition among estate workers and African smallholder farmers. Although there has before and since Paige been argument over the extent of involvement of nationalist organizations (especially the UPA) in directing the rebellion, and although most Portuguese commentators after the revolt blamed foreign agitators and terrorists, Paige is adamant that this was very much a popular uprising and that local economic tensions in the coffee economy were the main source of the strength of the uprising. His argument is supported by statistical analysis of a dataset of incidents of violence compiled from press sources and memoirs. Independent variables include size and number of concessions granted to coffee
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286 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards planters. The data provide clear support for the idea that the earliest incidents of revolt are found in the districts most affected by inux of settler coffee planters. SLAVE WARS AND MARRONAGE Forced labour in coffee plantations in the late 1950s and early 1960s was but the latest (and not the last) episode of coercive labour mobilization in Angola.The area of West Central Africa that came to be known as Angola had experienced hundreds of years of slave trading and violent conicts (Miller 1988). Other areas addressed by contributions to this volume Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Colombia and beyond also have long and specic histories of coercive labour mobilization and unfree labour. Indeed, any account of the association between war and agrarian conditions must take account of slavery. Slavery enduring forced labour, whether legally sanctioned or not is a recurrent condition throughout history and across the globe. Where people can, they will enslave others. But equally, since there is a universal instinct to be free, slaves will abscond where they can, and form independent communities of runaways (maroon communities).5 This is especially likely where slaveholders means of exerting force slacken, or where frontier conditions increase the likelihood that a bid for independence in forests, mountains or swamps will succeed. Slavery can only be maintained by force but, equally, maroon communities cannot survive without the exertion of counterforce; guerrilla warfare is the essential condition for maroon independence. The most fruitful questions about slavery are not about the condition itself, but about the circumstances in which slavery is imposed and begins to break down. Slavery arises in a multitude of circumstances as an answer to the issue of how to deploy alien populations captured in inter-state war, or as a product of raiding or kidnapping in marginal regions with few tradeable products other than human labour, or as a means of dealing with debt or crime in the absence of more sophisticated or costly sanctions (such as jails). The condition of slavery as Durkheim pointed out can only be maintained by constant force. The progress of the division of labour in society brings about transformation of slave-based societies. Slavery was common in the Classical world, but there were also many routes to manumission. These routes were typically most accessible to urban slaves who had acquired specialist skills. These skills generated wages by means of which such slaves could buy freedom. Manumission was less common under chattel slavery in the New World, especially in North America. The slaves had been recruited from Africa for their hardiness in relation to the demands of frontier agriculture and resistance to tropical diseases such as malaria.The demands of agrarian labour in frontier conditions ensured that most African slaves continued to work under the simplest, gang-based, forms of the agrarian division of labour. As the institution evolved, tasking became more common, but racial difference reinforced stereotypes of an ineducable underclass of hewers of wood and drawers of water, thus prolonging force (relative to skill) as the basis of social order in New World slave-holding societies. Accordingly, marronage endured as a cherished route to freedom.The agrarian systems of the Americas long remained war economies, a condition carried over into post-slavery, post-Civil War US peacetime in the institution of convict labour, on plantations but also very much in railroad construction, in mines, and in turpentine and lumber processing (Lichtenstein 1996). One of the best-documented cases, from a rich literature on marronage (Price 1996), is Jamaica, where the rst maroon communities in the island took shape as a result of
5 A recent overview of Asian agrarian history (Scott 2009) places marronage at the heart of a long-term and unnished struggle between centralizing, coercive states and self-governing hill peoples. Scott suggests that his basic model of state/non-state conict applies also to the long-term history of Africa, the Americas and Central Asia.

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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 287 English colonists driving Spanish settlers from the island in the mid-seventeenth century (Patterson 1977). The African slaves on the island organized rst as a semi-independent guerrilla force allied with the Spanish against the English. Isolated maroon farms in the hills were also a source of food for the beleaguered Spanish. However, after the Spanish abandoned the island, maroon settlements became an important exit option for slaves freshly landed from Africa, many from the West African Gold Coast. The environment of the forested hills of Jamaica was recognizably similar to the conditions that many of the slaves had known at home, and African guerrilla and subsistence tactics continued to serve maroon independence well. The rst maroon war lasted for almost a century, until 1740 (Patterson 1977), and ended inconclusively. An important factor in the conicts prolongation was the inability of the English to mobilize sufciently effective forces to eliminate the maroon threat. The African slave population of the island greatly outnumbered the English settler population, and many of the latter were not landowners with a strong vested interest in establishing an effective coercive regime, but agents working on behalf of absentee investors living in grand style in England. These agents sometimes, allegedly, connived in the ruination of plantations, hoping to buy them cheaply. In any case, few members of the agent class were willing to risk their lives volunteering for a militia capable of addressing the maroon threat effectively. The government of Jamaica sent for foreign experts in bush warfare (a contingent of Indian trackers from the mainland Mosquito Coast). Even this was insufcient to resolve the problem, and negotiation proved necessary. A die-hard group of maroons eventually petitioned to be repatriated to West Africa, and became an important founding element in the infant settlement for freed slaves at Sierra Leone in the early nineteenth century. More recently, Sierra Leone has faced an underclass rebellion of its own, in which it is tempting to see elements of the Jamaica story recapitulated perhaps most notably in the actions of a diaspora-oriented regime that hired South African bush warfare experts to help it deal with a forest insurgency that was eventually resolved not through force, but by negotiation. Indeed, it is not irrelevant to ask how much the present pattern of supposed new war in Africa owes to older cultural and organizational templates associated with agrarian slavery and marronage.The trans-Atlantic slave trade had a huge impact within Africa, even if some aspects of this story are far from fully understood. Originally, it appears that slavery in western Africa (from where most of the Atlantic slaves originated) was mainly a means of dealing with debt and crime. But demand soon outstripped supply. Increasingly, slaves were recruited through force, either as a result of slave-raiding of decentralized populations by horse-borne raiders from interior mercantile polities, sometimes thinly disguised as jihad, or (in forest regions) by the expedient of kidnapping. Judicial slavery also became degraded by greater demand from the Atlantic trade. For instance, a late-eighteenth-century observer in Sierra Leone (Thomas Winterbottom) noted that, as the demand for slaves increased, banishment as a slave increasingly resulted from trumped-up charges (Winterbottom 1803). A category of case on which Winterbottom comments was the tort of woman damage (the alleged adultery of a junior male with the wife of a polygamously married big man).The tort still survives in rural Sierra Leone in local courts rehabilitated by international aid in the aftermath of the Sierra Leone war and a recent study (Mokuwa et al. 2011) establishes that the pattern of cases correlates signicantly with variations in peak labour demand on upland rice farms (i.e. woman damage is connected with agrarian demands for cheap labour). These kinds of cases are among the abuses of justice that some young people involved in the Sierra Leone civil war cited as reasons for joining the rebel movement.
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288 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards Meillassoux (1991) notes that as early as the seventeenth century, free-booter enclaves were beginning to emerge in the West African interior, either as refuges from slave-raiding attacks or as gathering points for disaffected youths expelled or absconding from peasant society for a range of offences.6 Whether these enclaves are better classed as maroon or bandit communities remains to be debated, but Meillassouxs account of one such militia formation an armed meritocracy founded by the warlord Biton Coulibaly, from which the city-state of Segou on the Niger eventually emerged seems plausibly comparable in a number of respects not least, the emphasis on military prowess as a basis for youth social advancement with the bush movement built by the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, in the Sierra Leone forests during the 1990s. The slave trade also induced the establishment of slave plantations within Africa. The upper West African coast north of Freetown is one region in which such plantations were numerous, mainly growing red rice for the victualling of slave vessels. These plantations appear mainly to have been staffed by slaves from the interior, pending their eventual overseas sale. Doubtless, attempts to abscond were frequent, and were put down by violent means. There were also full-scale slave revolts, and attempts at marronage. We know about one substantial instance of marronage on the edge of the Upper Guinean forest in the late eighteenth century (Mouser 2007), but other instances of slave rebel groups retreating into more inaccessible regions of the forest perhaps await discovery (cf. Scott 2009). Domestic and farm slavery was still widespread in western Africa at the beginning of the colonial period. In poor agrarian conditions, slavery was often disguised by the lack of any more general division of labour in village society. Each person grew his or her own crops, whether slave or free. Legal emancipation took place in the early years of colonial administration, and former slaves often sought to better their condition by looking for paid work in towns, mines or plantations. The children of former slaves looked for their eventual emancipation through education.As in the Classical world, the children of slaves knew that true manumission is related to acquisition of skill. It is thus worth noting that two of the emblematic instances of African new war were among the last countries to enact legal emancipation (Sierra Leone in 1928 and Liberia in 1930). In both countries, the agrarian division of labour has, since emancipation, remained highly underdeveloped. Opportunities for young people in rural areas were further constrained in the 1980s by cuts to aid budgets in the name of structural adjustment. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, to nd rural revolts in these two countries in some cases staffed by recruits whose grandparents knew agrarian slavery at rst hand recapitulating the motivational language and violent guerrilla organizational know-how associated with earlier episodes of African marronage. As the longer-term history of slave societies suggests, the problem of this type of violence may not be fully addressed until routes towards social cohesion via acquisition of skill are fully opened. PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION LIVES ON Much of slavery especially, but not exclusively, the Atlantic slave trade has its corollary in the violent appropriation of land. Between clear-cut enslavement and the protracted civil war,
6 Millers (1988) majestic history of the Angolan slave trade points to a number of refugee and escaped-slave maroon-type communities emerging within West Central Africa in the eighteenth century: Slaves ed from the marketplaces of the interior, taking refuge among the very people who had just sold them to the Europeans . . . Some fugitives established maroon colonies of their own within Portuguese territory, and there are hints that a major colony of renegades existed throughout the century virtually on the outskirts of Luanda. Some of these colonies had extensive elds and fortications . . . and lived by raiding Portuguese slave-run plantations in the river valleys (1988, 3856).

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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 289 more or less dissembled, between the capitalist class and the working class that Marx (in Capital, p. 303; cited in Denning 2010, 83) argued created the normal working day, there have been, and are, other mechanisms essentially forcing people to join the ranks of free labour supply as wage labourers. And one of the enduring mechanisms, again tied to coercive appropriation of land, has been primitive accumulation. Interest in primitive accumulation has revived in recent years (Moore 2000, 2003; Byres 2004; Khan 2004; Cramer 2006).7 Classically, as in the English enclosures, primitive accumulation involves the appropriation of land for private purposes, which kicks off a double movement enabling the emergence of capitalist relations of production: an amassing of investible capital and the creation of a wage labour class. Land appropriation (later supported by a raft of other mechanisms such as hut taxes) effectively deprived people of subsistence livelihoods. They were they are forced to sell their labour power or to make up the numbers in a reserve army of labour. Enclosure experiments set the precedent for a wave of colonial conquest, violent dispossession and resistance. In Ireland, Romists and Common Irish, wrote William Petty, began the 1641 rebellion by trying to repossess English-owned estates.This backred spectacularly: the Act of Settlement in 1652 reallocated nearly 8.5 million acres of land from Catholics to Protestants. Catholic ownership of land shrivelled from more than 60 per cent to less than 10 per cent. There is an echo of this in the Christian planting land grabbing and large-scale settlement of Mindanao (see Vellema et al. 2011, this issue). One among many racial rather than religious versions of the accumulation of land by conquest was in North America, where the rhetoric of the heroics of nudging the frontier of civilization westwards masked the fact that conquest was the historical bedrock of the whole nation . . . Conquest was a literal, territorial form of economic growth (Limerick 1987, 267). The virgin lands of a Jeffersonian imagination were occupied and their redistribution to the benet of white farmers was complex, venal and cruel.8 Primitive accumulation has been a provocation to violence, it has been carried out by violence and has followed warfare and conquest, and it has often been a feature of the rearrangements secured during violent conicts. It is such a common feature of the past 500 years of Angolas history, for example, that it becomes an organizing principle of the narrative of that history. This narrative encompasses: slavery and early colonial settlement; twentiethcentury settlement fuelled by Portuguese immigration (for example, in the coffee boom of the late 1950s); the postwar enclosure of land rich in diamonds in the northern Lunda region; and government-forced evictions in peri-urban farming and housing areas in the 2000s, for purposes of development and beautication.9 It has been at the leading edge of developmental conict in Colombia. It is a provocative feature of the commercializing intrusions into the central forest regions in India, where a civilizing frontier rhetoric, not unlike that of nineteenth-century North Americans, has masked profoundly conict-inducing policies. It is the spectre underlying social protests in rural Peru, where nightwatch patrols (rondas campesinas) have challenged multinational mining projects on the grounds that they will erode the delicate ecological viability of small-scale farming (Taylor 2011, this issue). At worst, episodes and dynamics of primitive accumulation simply recur, in a loop of coercion, redistributions and reproduced destitution. At best, primitive accumulation is so fundamental to the evolution of more sustained and expansive capitalism that it must lead to a reinterpretation of clichs of development as conict prevention and of the security-development nexus.
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And it has been extended into the persistent mechanism of accumulation by dispossession highlighted by Harvey (2003). As Limerick (1987) has it, frontier is an unsubtle concept in a subtle world. 9 See Marques (2006) on the Lundas; and see Human Rights Watch (2007) on forced evictions near Luanda. 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

290 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards A CONTINUUM OF VIOLENCE AND VARIETY OF CONFLICTS It is precisely to a renewed attention to such local economic tensions, and to variations in agrarian structures and relations, and their implications for political conict and the peacewar continuum, and at the same time to deeper histories than are often admitted to analyses of violent conicts, that this special issue hopes to contribute. On the one hand, the contributions to this special issue help to signal the signicance of studying the agrarian roots, dimensions and consequences of many recent and ongoing violent conicts. On the other hand, such study may help in deepening understanding of the heterogeneity of violent conicts. For much recent conict literature has been poorly served both by commitment to unit homogeneity of civil wars (or to what Gutirrez-Sann 2008 calls the similarity hypothesis), for example, and by what efforts there have been to disaggregate among such conicts; for instance, according to whether they are internal, international or internationalized internal, and so on. There are structural features of international relations and the world economy that also affect variations over time in the technology of rebellion, leading for example to Kalyvas and Balcellss (2010) distinction between irregular (guerrilla) wars, conventional wars and non-conventional symmetry wars.10 A possible matrix of violent conicts might incorporate both this kind of distinction and its roots in international relations and the effects on the heterogeneity of violent conicts of local, including agrarian, social and economic structures and relations.11 We argue, further, for an empirical and analytical range that extends beyond a disaggregation of those phenomena typically classied as civil wars, or indeed as wars or intermediate armed conicts. Instead, despite the usefulness of analyses restricted to civil war datasets, we argue for the continued relevance of a continuum of violence or a peacewar continuum.This is not least because of the common roots of many different phenomena of social conict and violence in agrarian structures and in processes of fundamental agrarian change. One example is the origins and early development of the Sicilian Maa. Salvatore Lupo argues strongly against the fantasy that the Maa is a phenomenon of backwardness, a throwback to feudalism that would vanish once the sound of locomotive whistles echoed through the villages of the desolate Sicilian hinterland (2009, 10). The idea cyclically resurfaces, Lupo writes, according to which modern changes (agricultural land reform, industrialization, education and the development of more liberal sexual ethics) ought ipso facto to destroy the phenomenon . . . (2009, 10). A very similar argument also resurfaces and has dominated much thinking in the post-Cold War era, in the form of the straightforward argument that development is conict prevention, that development retards war (World Bank 2003).12 By contrast, the Maosi most specically seen as emblematic of this traditionalist view Calogero Vizzini and Giuseppe Genco Russo were organizers of co-operatives, intermediaries in the transfer of land from large landowners to peasants. They were not the handmaidens of feudal latifondismo. There is historically a close correspondence between the Maa and the fragmentation of large landed estates, a close integration of Maosi into international markets,
Kalyvas and Balcells (2010) argue that once one disaggregates in this way, it is possible to reveal a dramatic transformation in civil wars after the end of the Cold War, with a striking decline in irregular wars in particular. Where insurgency or guerrilla war involves asymmetry between the two main warring parties (insurgent and state), conventional wars are more symmetric in terms of level and type of military technology between rebels and states and involve a high level of military technology, while in symmetric non-conventional wars, the military technology of the two sides is matched but at a low level. 11 Berdal and Suhrke (2011) emphasize the need, similarly, to overcome a similarity hypothesis about warto-peace transitions, distinguishing among varieties of postwar violence. 12 Frances Thomson takes particular issue with this idea in the context of Colombia (2011, this issue). 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 291 in the sulphur mines of the interior and the dynamic agricultural areas of peri-urban borgate in the Palermo hinterland, the area where citrus exports took off in the nineteenth century. Agrarian change, indeed a protracted crisis and transformation of the latifondismo system within a larger, also protracted and uneven, transformation of Sicilian and Italian politics, was very much the context for the emergence of the Maa. Historians of the Maa (including Gambetta 1996; Dickie 2004; Lupo 2009) locate much of its origins in the rural areas of increasingly realized commercial (especially export-oriented) value and in control over (through ownership and/or management of) citrus groves and parcelled-out large landholdings or state land. Gabelloti renters and leasers of land parcels were particularly central to the dynamics that sometimes pitted emergent classes against landowners and sometimes pitted rival competitors for local land monopolies against one another. The Maa phenomenon often involved gabelloti or giardini (managers or watchmen) using the threat of rustic brigands (often a threat they themselves created) to insinuate themselves into positions of control of the ow of resources and to offer protection.13 In this, the Maa emerges as a micro-version of Tillys (1990) state-as-racketeer argument. CAUSE AND EFFECT: EMPIRICAL CHALLENGES One of the distinguishing features of Paige (1975) was the combination of research methods. The study combined cross-country statistical analysis with a set of contrastive, highly detailed case studies. This combination of methods bridges the common divide in the recent literature on violent conicts between the more quantitatively minded research by many economists and some political scientists and the more qualitative research of many others. Paige adopted a different research approach in later work (1998) that also focused on the structural implications of particular export commodities, though in this case exclusively coffee. Recent literature has stressed, often in a highly determinist way, the possible signicance of a resource curse, usually referring to mineral resources, and in particular to the role of oil in raising the risk of civil war. However, it is just as clear that other resources, including agricultural export commodities, have often been at the heart of violent conicts. Here too, the physical properties and technical requirements of production for specic commodities are signicant. But rather than fetishizing commodities themselves, what is more signicant is the set of social relations and political dynamics both shaped by, and shaping, commodity production. Thus, it is not simply whether a mineral is located at a point or dispersed as a resource, or whether or not a commodity can be grown with capital-intensive mechanization. On a similar note, Snyder (2006) argues that lootable resources may contribute to armed conict in some contexts, but to political order and stability in others. Central American conicts of the 1980s were: deeply rooted in the social and economic structures of the region.These structures in turn were shaped by a single commodity that has dominated these small export economies from the nineteenth century to the present coffee . . . [The] coffee elite shaped the political institutions that emerged in the early twentieth century and survived the collapse of these institutions in the economic and political crises of the 1930s . . . Coffee and power have been closely linked in Central America since the nineteenth century. (Paige 1998, 3)
13 Lupo (2009) is adamant, however, and in contrast to Gambetta (1996), that the intertwining of material interests and politics in Maa behaviour cannot be reduced to a simple economic logic.

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292 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards More recent work in the vein of institutional political economy also argues that factor endowments do not determine economic or political fate. Nugent and Robinson (2010) compare the Latin American coffee economies of Colombia and Costa Rica with El Salvador and Guatemala, to argue that their different political and economic trajectories were shaped not simply by topography or the innate characteristics of coffee but by variations in the background, composition and strategies of nineteenth-century elites and in their approach to land laws and the mobilization of labour, which in turn affected paths to either smallholder coffee production or plantation (and labour repression) production: Our analysis suggests that the domain of theories which emphasize factor endowments as the main source of variation in institutions is limited. At least for the economies we consider, endowments were not fate (Nugent and Robinson 2010, 79). The contrasting cases of Ghana and Cte dIvoire are instructive here. Cocoa and tensions over land, and the rights of migrant strangers to land leased for cocoa production, are undoubtedly present in both countries, but in only one case (thus far) have these issues become enfolded within, and contributed to, a nexus of political violence and civil war. Furthermore, both countries sell their cocoa in the same market, and are subject to the same global market factors and constraints. In short, the commodity factor alone cannot provide the basis for an adequate explanation of why (and when) war breaks out.14 It seems likely that here as in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala variations in the background, composition and strategies of elites will prove to be equally important. The key in Paiges Coffee and Power is precisely how coffee elites in three Central American countries powerfully shaped and dominated politics from the late nineteenth century through to the latter part of the twentieth (at least); how very comparable countries followed such extraordinarily different political trajectories through the twentieth century socialist revolution, supported by sections of the coffee elite in Nicaragua; revolution from above (fascism in Barrington Moores 1973 terms) in El Salvador, in which coffee elites supported the extreme right-wing party set up by a death-squad leader; and sustained democracy in Costa Rica, also dominated by coffee elites); but how all three countries and their coffee elites then converged on a late-twentieth-century neoliberal ideology. In terms of research methods, Paige (1998) combined interviews with members of coffee elite families with a historical political economy of each country.The emphasis is on the way in which narrative reects and constructs ideology: ideology in Marxs sense of inversion of the reality rather than simply a set of beliefs. The study of new wars has been undermined by needless disputes; for example, between social scientists (e.g. proponents of large-N statistical approaches to causality of war) and postmodernists stressing the importance of the analysis of agency and discourse. A similar stand-off (between proponents of structuralist and behaviourist models) undermined the productivity of studies of peasant revolt a generation ago, which is perhaps one reason why this literature has not presented itself more forcefully in recent debates. Neither approach rules out the other; both are needed for a fully rounded interpretation, as Durkheim long ago made clear, in arguing that human ritual agency generates and harnesses emotional energies to collective ends, and thus forges institutions and structure. There is room in a more constructive approach to the agrarian dynamics of violent conict for combining cross-country statistics, statistical analysis of individual case study surveys, life histories, interviews, textual analysis, archival work and so on. However, all these methods have to deal with the particular salience of problematic evidence: evidence that is missing or that is distorted by interests; evidence that is coloured by the
14

See Austin (1996) and Ryan (2011).

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Violence and War in Agrarian Perspective 293 emotions driving violence, its experience and its interpretation; or evidence that is simply difcult to collect and interpret.Violent conict is not alone in facing such problems, but may be especially prone to them.15 Reconstructing violent incidents or episodes and trying to understand the sequence of events, and the motives and causes that led to them, is never easy. The challenges involved ought to be taken as a warning not to get carried away by the temptations to deduce such causes and motives from abstract axioms, or to infer them from patchy and often at best second-hand evidence. Two honest and meticulous examples of the challenges involved are Todorovs (1996) local history of an act of resistance to Nazi and collaborationist rule in an Auvergnac town late in the Second World War and Roosas (2006) history of an event, similar in its failure and in the terrible vengeance that it unleashed, in Indonesia in the mid-1960s. For historians of Indonesia, the September 30th movement, a group of troops loyal to President Sukarno who in 1965 kidnapped and executed a number of army generals who they held responsible for plotting a right-wing coup, has been difcult to fathom for decades. The movement and its consequences, effectively the takeover of power by Suharto and the reprisals that he instigated, one of the worst bloodbaths of the twentieth century (Roosa 2006, 4), was hugely signicant but has been plagued by empirical difculties. There has been little primary evidence available for scrutiny and most of that is unreliable: Different individuals joined the movement with different motivations and expectations, and they possessed different levels of knowledge about the plan. As with many covert operations involving such a wide array of people and institutions, there were mistaken assumptions, mis-communications, and self-deceptions (Roosa 2006, 19). John Roosas own approach, partly an interpretation in the light of new empirical evidence, is to try to avoid a Rashomon-like ending, in which one character tells another: Well, dont worry about it. It isnt as though men were reasonable;16 and at the same time to avoid an overly neat Sherlock Holmes-like resolution. Though Roosa does not offer this analogy, it is tempting to see many such incidents and episodes of violence including many addressed in this special issue more in terms of Carlo Emilio Gaddas That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana. For Gadda, nothing can be explained if we conne ourselves to one cause: The apparent motive, the principal motive was, of course, single. But the crime was the effect of a whole list of motives which had blown on it in a whirlwind (like the 16 winds in the list of winds when they twist together in a tornado, in a cyclonic depression) and had ended by pressing into the vortex of the crime the enfeebled reason of the world (Gadda 2007, 56). Meanwhile, Todorov (1996) reconstructs the acts of a resistance group in Saint-AmandMontrond who, hearing on the radio of the Normandy landings in 1944, came out into the open to liberate their town led, Todorov argues, above all by the idea that to preserve French dignity they must liberate their own town and took hostages, some of whom they executed. Their timing was premature. Collaborationists and German soldiers responded by re-taking control of the town, rounding up some 70 Jewish people in the area and dumping their bodies down wells. Though much of this tragedy can be reconstructed, there is still evidence missing, some survivors of the time refused to talk to Todorov, and the evidence that exists is clearly coloured by interest. So Todorov (1996, xviii) writes in his preface that
See: Cramer and Goodhand (2011) on the deployment of factoids, and false pretensions to hard science, in this eld; Cramer et al. (2011) on the ethical and methodological challenges of research on conict contexts in Africa; and Murray et al. (2002) on the overall problem of data availability and reliability in violent conicts. 16 Rashomon is a lm directed by Akira Kurosawa (1950), in which four people provide four different narratives of the same crime and in which there is no resolution that reveals the truth. 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
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294 Christopher Cramer and Paul Richards tomorrow I could discover some details, some implications of the acts that I describe, that have eluded me and that would change the overall meaning. Everything that follows must therefore be read in light of this explicit limitation: according to what I know at present . This special issue bears out the complexity of the issues and contributes to what we know at present. This includes the issue of for what purpose we seek to learn. Scholars range across the gamut of motivations some analysing war because it is there, or because it is a key part of what they might seek to understand (e.g. social change more generally); others because they are embedded intellectuals, seeking to contribute to knowledge of how, effectively, to prosecute war, or how to make peace. The kinds of conicts covered in this issue are inescapable challenges to all these scholarly learning projects. But also at stake is the issue of what peasant groups themselves learn in the process of living through and participating in armed conict. The current special issue covers a range of outcomes. At one extreme is Lewis Taylors case study of Peru (2011, this issue), in which peasant groups appear to have developed a range of organizational skills in the process of mobilizing for civil defence during the period of the Shining Path insurgency, which they have more recently put to use in confronting international mining capital through organized but less violent means. At the other extreme is the worrying case of Sierra Leone, where authoritarian local rulers appear to have learnt little or nothing from the disaster of the civil war, and where the operations of international mining capital, facilitated by these rural ruling elites, are once more provoking stirrings of revolt among violence-prone rural youth. In short, only careful contextual analysis will reveal whether war builds capacity for more war or strengthens determination to contest land appropriation and other aspects of primitive accumulation by other, non-violent means. It is by encompassing such a wide range of causes and outcomes that the papers in this issue make their case for bringing the agrarian back into the study of violent conict in developing countries as a core concern. In doing so, they also amount to a new research agenda requiring, as we suggest, a breadth of analytical ambition and a hitherto unprecedented combination of methods. The numbers, worldwide, of those who remain dependent on peasant livelihoods (not simply subsistence farmers, but families living in rural areas combining farming with off-farm wage labour and often sustained by remittances) is often a shock to those far removed from the soil upwards of 2 billion. The peasantry is an enduring presence in the modern world, and the topic of peasant revolt, we argue, needs urgently to be reinstated at the centre of debates about recent civil wars. The locus of transition detected by studies of the Wat Tyler rebellion of 1381 was an economic and cultural order in the countryside that the enfeebled agrarian regime was increasingly unable to subjugate: London 1381, Kabul today? Collectively, the following papers make a case for viewing a surprising number of important intra-state wars today as conicts at the point of transition from feudal/patrimonial to market-oriented, capitalist (or perhaps at least combined) modes of production in which agrarian struggles play a central part. These issues are unlikely to fade fast. Instead, they will only become more obvious, partly because of their increasingly clear but ever-present global dimensions. Global food and energy price trends, the volatile play of commodity futures speculation upon prices of export crops and consumer foods, climate change, concerns over foreign investment and so-called land grabbing are all capable of provoking struggles: over access to land for instance, peasants displaced by ower farm concessions or pastoralists excluded by pasture enclosures; over water use; over the conditions of labour; or over the gendered and generational relations of power. This special issue is offered in support of the claim that war studies needs now to make an agrarian turn.
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