The Peasant Activism Project: an ethnographic study

The Peasant Activism Project (2016-2018) is a major ethnographic study of neo-rural activism in Italy financed by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), UK, hosted by Queen’s University Belfast and carried out in cooperation with University of Perugia, Italy. The project investigates innovative political activism related to grassroot attempts to re-appropriate the right to certify food.

The vulnerability of small-scale farmers

Small-scale farmers and neo-rural activists are particularly vulnerable in front of an increasingly invasive neoliberal ‘governance of transparency’. Many of those who pursue sustainable lifestyles and produce quality food often find themselves in difficulties with tightening regulations regarding food safety and the technocratic demands in relation to the certification of standards, considered by many as favoring large industrial productions.

Towards innovations

The core innovation of our study derives from the attempt to shed light on the emerging diffusion of alternative and more democratic ‘participatory self-certifications’ of food products in Italy through a theoretical lens that combines anthropological writing on food activism with critical studies of policy. This will allow a renewed ‘political understanding’ of food activism, an understanding in relation to broader issues of governance, sovereignty and citizenship, rather than in relation to questions of identity and culture.

"Investigating innovative political activism that attempts to re-appropriate the right to certify food"


POLITICAL IMAGINATION LABORATORY: Visualizing and Contextualizing Ethnographies of Social Movements

Perugia 14th -16th October 2016 University of Perugia

What visions animate contemporary activism? How to visualize or to contextualize the political imagination of contemporary social movements? How to uncover those utopian aspirations, strategic and/or ideological horizons that too often pass implicitly, silently or invisibly? Inspired by both visual and ethnographic fieldwork, the Political Imagination Laboratory aims to explore and interrogate the shifting political imagination of contemporary social movements and forms of activism.

CALL FOR PAPERS AND VISUAL PROJECT: Political Imagination Laboratory (now closed)



The “Peasant Activism Project” in cooperation with the network “Anthropology and Social Movements” of the European Association of Social Movements (EASA) and “Contro-Sguardi”, promotes the first meeting of the POLITICAL IMAGINATION LABORATORY: Visualizing and Contextualizing Ethnographies of Social Movements.

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Il tempo di parlare e segnare. Antropologia, politiche e pratiche del tempo nella sordità


Paper “Il tempo di parlare e segnare. Antropologia, politiche e pratiche del tempo nella sordità”, panel “Esperienza dell’attesa e retoriche del “tempo che manca” nel campo sanitario. Il contributo operativo dell’antropologia”, co. Giovanni Pizza & Andrea F. Ravenda”, conference 2° Convegno Nazionale della SIAA – Società Italiana di Antropologia Applicata, Rimini (Italia).



Project hosted by

Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University Belfast


Financed by
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK

In collaboration with
Dipartimento di Filosofia, Scienze Sociali, Umane e della Formazione, Università degli Studi di Perugia

International research network “Anthropology and Social Movements”, European Association of Social Anthropology (EASA)

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This is the official website of the project: ‘The Right to Certify? Mobilizing for the Self-Certification of Food’ (Project code ES/M011291/1)