The Peasant Activism Project

The “Peasant Activism Project”, part of an international research network, organizes events, conferences and documentary screenings and carries out research related to neo-rural activism and the globalization of the countryside. Its current work stems out of a major ethnographic study of activism for food sovereignty in Italy financed by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), UK, hosted by Queen’s University Belfast  between 2016 and 2018 (“The Right to Certify? Mobilizing for the Self-Certification of Food”, Project code ES/M011291/1). In events such as the “Political Imagination Laboratory” and a number of other ongoing research projects, we bring together scholars who investigate innovative political activism on rural-urban relations.

The globalization of the food system and neo-rural activism

Small-scale farmers and neo-rural activists are particularly vulnerable in front of an increasingly globalised food system. 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.

“The right to certify”: Towards innovations

The core innovation of our study derives from the attempt to shed light on how food sovereignty activism in Italy reappriates the “right to certify” food quality and safety. This will allow a renewed ‘political understanding’ of food activism, renewing the anthropology of food in terms of sovereignty and citizenship, rather than in relation to questions of identity and culture.

"Investigating the political imagination of food sovereignty activism"


New Documentary: “The Border: Resisting Monocrops in Central Italy”

We are pleased to announce our new documentary, “The Border: Resisting Monocrops in Central Italy” (Italy 2024, 40′). Monocrops accelerate climate change, impoverish local economic fabrics and pollute soils and aquifers. The documentary portrays a group of people trying to resist the multiple effects of monocrops that rapidly expand in Central Italy’s formerly diverse agricultural landscapes. The protagonist also build alternative economies and buying land to remove them from the sphere of influence of multinational companies. The film can be viewed at the following link: https://youtu.be/wlgrTq8cSZw. If you want to organize a screening session, please contact us at info@peasantproject.org

New Article: “Surviving in an Age of Transparency”

New Article: “Surviving in an Age of Transparency”. Based on fieldwork with small-scale farmers and food producers in Central Italy, carried out within the frame of the “Peasant Activism Project, a new article in “American Anthropologist” has been published. The complete article can be accessed here.

4th Political Imagination Laboratory

We are pleased to announce the program of our 4th Political Imagination Laboratory, to be held from 30th September to 02 October 2022 at University of Perugia. This year’s title is “Utopias of Sustainability –
The Sustainability of Utopias”. You can access the complete program here.

Research Seminar: ‘The Promises of Utopia: A Political Ethnography of Food Sovereignty Activism in Italy’

In the seminar “The Promises of Utopia: A Political Ethnography of Food Sovereignty Activism in Italy” (Wednesday 28/04/2021, 12.15),  Alexander Koensler will discuss some of the Peasant Activism Project’s research. The seminar is organised by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. For more information and online access please follow the link.

New: Forum on new climate change activism

In the journal “Social Anthropology”, a forum on new climate change activism has been published, including a contribution based on our research. For more information and to access the contributions, please follow the link.

New article: ‘Prefigurative Politics in Practice. Concrete Utopias in Italy’s Food Sovereignty Activism’

We are pleased to announce the publication of the article “Prefigurative Politics in Practice. Concrete Utopias in Italy’s Food Sovereignty Activism” in Mobilization (25,1), a major interdisciplinary journal of social movement studies. Based on long-term ethnographic research with food sovereignty networks in Italy, the article investigates how prefigurative politics work in practice. More information can be found here.


First impressions from our work

Initially hosted by

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics (HAPP) , Queen’s University Belfast

Initially 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” is an international research network, organizing events, conferences and documentary screenings. The network derives out of a research project 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 has recieved a follow-up research grants in 2018 and network grants in 2019.