Class, Culture and the Agrarian Myth


Using examples from different historical contexts, this book examines the relationship between class, nationalism, modernity and the agrarian myth. Essentializing rural identity, traditional culture and quotidian resistance, both aristocratic/plebeian and pastoral/Darwinian forms of agrarian myth discourse inform struggles waged 'from above' and 'from below', surfacing in peasant movements, film and travel writing. Film depictions of royalty, landowner and colonizer as disempowered, ‘ordinary’ or well-disposed towards ‘those below’, whose interests they share, underwrite populism and nationalism. Although these ideologies replaced the cosmopolitanism of the Grand Tour, twentieth century travel literature continued to reflect a fear of vanishing rural ‘otherness’ abroad, combined with the arrival there of the mass tourist, the plebeian from home.
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Biographical Note

Tom Brass, D.Phil (1982) formerly lectured in the SPS Faculty at Cambridge University and directed studies for Queens' College. He edited The Journal of Peasant Studies for almost two decades, and has published extensively on agrarian issues and rural labour relations.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction I. CULTURE, TRADITION AND MODERNITY 1 Cultural Struggle ‘From Below’ 2 Cultural Struggle ‘From Above’ 3 Development caught between Tradition and Modernity II. SCREEN IMAGES OF RURAL STRUGGLE 4 Horror, Humour, Fiends and Fools 5 Best of Friends, or Worst of Enemies? III. CULTURE, CLASS STRUGGLE AND TRAVEL 6 The Grand Tour, or From Cosmopolitanism to Nationalism 7 Mass Tourism, or the Mob-in-the-streets Travels Abroad 8 Venice – Being There Conclusion References Index


The book is aimed at those with an interest in agrarian issues, and the impact on economic development of popular culture, nationalism and populism.