Monday, September 10, 2007


campesino: campesino (see below for notes on small farmer and/or peasant)

I'm finally back home after all my conferencing. At the Latin American Studies conference I saw a great presentation by Malcolm McNee where he argued that the Via Campesina organizes a broad base, and is building the 'rural multitude'. Well obviously that's academic jargon, I wouldn't use it for interpreting, but I liked the point. On their site they say
"We are the international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers."
That's actually much more than just small farmers, which is the term that I had been using when interpreting (usually just the first time, with campesino, and then I'd just use campesino). I have resisted using peasant because I think that in English it has different connotations than it does in Spanish, particularly problematically it is associated with the past, and pre-modernity. BUT, the Via Campesina, despite their broad definition under who are we, actually uses the term peasant on their English site in the upper right hand corner ("La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement").
Hmm. All in all, the safest bet to me seems to just keep insisting on importing campesino. Pretty much any even vaguely lefty English speaking crowd will get it.

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