Land and Freedom

The MST, the Zapatistas and Peasant Alternatives to Neoliberalism

Leandro Vergara-Camus


The only comparative analysis of the Zapatistas and the MST.
The Zapatistas of Chiapas and the Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST) of Brazil are often celebrated as shining examples in the global struggle against neoliberalism. But what have these movements achieved for their members in more than two decades of resistance and can any of these achievements realistically contribute to the rise of a viable alternative?

Through a perfect balance of grassroots testimonies, participative observation and consideration of key debates in development studies, agrarian political economy, historical sociology and critical political economy, Land and Freedom compares, for the first time, the Zapatista and MST movements.

Casting a spotlight on their resistance to globalizing market forces, Vergara-Camus gets to the heart of how these movements organize themselves and how territorial control, politicization and empowerment of their membership and the decommodification of social relations are key to understanding their radical development potential.

Author Bio

Leandro Vergara-Camus teaches development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His work focuses on the Latin American left, peasant agriculture, the history of land struggles in Latin America, and the impact of the internationalization of the Brazilian sugar cane ethanol industry in the global South.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Peasant Struggles and Primitive Accumulation
  • 2. Neoliberalism and New Forms of Peasant Rebellions
  • 3. The New Modern Prince and Autonomous Rural Communities
  • 4. Resistance, Alternative Development and the Market
  • 5. Revolution in Times of Neoliberal Hegemony
  • Conclusion


'An important new take on two emblematic Latin American social movements. This book is particularly refreshing, in that it is perhaps the only major piece of scholarship to compare them through the lens of peasant studies.'
Peter Rosset, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), Chiapas, Mexico, and the Land Research Action Network (LRAN)

'This book engagingly and vividly gives voice to the subaltern classes and their collective effort to create new communities and solidarity networks. This is indeed a ground-breaking and compelling work.'
Cristóbal Kay, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

'The appeal of this book lies in its comprehensive comparison of two quite distinct agrarian social movements within the current neoliberal conjuncture. This is a path-breaking contribution to the peasant question.'
Philip McMichael, Cornell University, author of Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions

'In this provocative and unique book, Vergara-Camus compares and contrasts the important new models of socioeconomic interaction the rural poor of Brazil and Mexico have developed through collective action. Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary radical social change.'
Clifford Andrew Welch, São Paulo Federal University

'Offers an original and compelling theory of peasant struggles that challenge neoliberal globalization. A must read for students of development.'
Gerardo Otero, Simon Fraser University

'A fundamental book for anyone who wants to understand the anti-capitalist path created by contemporary peasant rebellions. Vergara-Camus examines the impact of land struggles which, in the 1990s, challenged the "neoliberal consensus" in Mexico and Brazil. These movements have given the world a new political language, and have won a more dignified life for their impoverished members.'
Débora Lerrer, Centre for Development, Agriculture and Society, Rio de Janeiro


Publication Date: 11 September 2014
368 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780327426
Hardback: 9781780327433
eBook ePub: 9781780327457
eBook PDF: 9781780327440
eBook Kindle: 9781780327464

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