The Chestnut Economy: The Praxis of Neo-Peasantry in Rural France
Willis, Scott; Campbell, Hugh
This article presents the results of a study of an informal economy within le Parc national des Cévennes and observes the way in which diverse groups have re-inhabited and re-inscribed a previously abandoned peasant landscape. This study is theoretically interpreted in the light of recent theorization of globalisation, neo-liberalism, the consumption of landscape, the variability and agency which constructs space, and the importance of regionalisation as a dynamic in late capitalism. These issues of international interest operate in a French context alongside both the activist heritage of the Paris Spring and the broader cultural dynamic of patrimonialisation in rural France. The discussion traces the emergence of a localised praxis mobilised by ex-urban activists. This praxis is centred on the development of a vibrant informal economy - the ‘chestnut economy’. This was a highly contested process, with a collision (and later collusion) of interests being negotiated between ex-urban activists, absentee owners of property and the residual local population. It is in outlining the terrain of contestation between the main communities of interest, and their eventual accommodation through the activities of the ‘chestnut economy’, that the effectiveness of a praxis of neo-peasantry can be observed.
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
Rights Statement: ©European Society for Rural Sociology
Keywords: France; Counter-culture; chestnut economy; neo-peasant; Agrarian Question
Research Type: Journal Article