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 governance of transparency and neo-rural activism

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 the opaque side of transparency"


Event: Midsummer Festival at Monticello Amiata – Screening and Debate of our Documentary

Our documentary “An Experimental Path” will be screened at the Midsummer Festival and Market of “Genuino Amiatino”on 24 June 2018 at Monticello Amiata in Tuscany. The screening will be followed by a debate with the authors and protagonists of the film about the perspectives and limits of the “Partcipatory Guarantee”, an alternative way to engage consumers and small-scale farmers in micro-economic comunity networks. Here a link to the program of the event.

International Conference: 2nd “Political Imagination Laboratory”

We are pleased to announce the second edition of our “Political Imagination Laboratory”. The second edition of the Political Imagination Laboratory brings together anthropologists, social scientists, filmmakers and activists from around the world and will alternate paper presentations with film screenings, roundtable discussions, and work-in-progress visual expositions.
The completed program can be accessed here.

First impressions from our work

Project hosted by

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP) , 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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The “Peasant Activism Project” has been financed between February 2016 and March 2018 by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (Esrc) under the initial title ‘The Right to Certify? Mobilizing for the Self-Certification of Food’ (Project code ES/M011291/1), and is currently funded by a follow-up grant hosted at Queen’s University Belfast.