14. 12. 2023

CFP EASA 2024: Undoing and Redoing Categories for People Working in Agriculture through Ethnography

Team members Laura Kuen and André Thiemann with Lisa Rail from the University of Vienna are announcing a Call for Papers for the panel, Peasants? Smallholders? Farmers? Undoing and redoing categories for people working in agriculture through ethnography’ at EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) 2024 Doing and Undoing in Anthropology to be held in Barcelona, 23-26 July, 2024. Please find the panel abstract below and on the conference website: EASA2024 ( The panel will be in-person, with no hybrid option, unfortunately.

The deadline for abstract submission is 22 January 2024. Submissions can be made only via the online form on the conference website (not via email). For more details about the Call for Papers, see EASA2024: Call for Papers (

If there are any questions, feel free to contact any one of the convenors – André, Laura, and Lisa.

We look forward to receiving your paper proposals.

Peasants? Smallholders? Farmers? Undoing and redoing categories for people working in agriculture through ethnography

Lisa Francesca Rail, Laura Kuen, André Thiemann


Short Abstract

Not only food producers use loaded designations that highlight certain features of their agricultural practices over others; so do social movements, legal systems, or grant regulations. This panel addresses the discrepancy between common terms for agricultural occupations and the realities we study.



What is considered a small farm in the region you study? Would it be two hectares or one hundred? Would it feed four cows or eighty? Would caring for an orchard and a few goats make someone a farmer or gardener; a smallholder or land-worker; a peasant, herdswoman, or rural entrepreneur? What is subsistence farming, peasant agriculture, or a family farm? Such terms not only represent material realities: they also shape them. Analytic categories pinpoint distinctive features of agricultural practices yet veil others and blur differences in scale and scope. Peasant agriculture evokes extensive, pre-industrial agriculture – but what about four hectares of grassland worked with a modern tractor and hay-dryer? Family farming creates images of self-sufficiency – but might it also show hired labour or wage dependency? Agricultural practices are highly diverse and entangled with multiple histories and occupations. Most do not match policy distinctions between market-oriented professional enterprises, independent self-subsistence, and cultural landscaping. Not only do food producers use loaded designations to categorise agricultural practices, but so do political movements, legal systems, and grant regulations. In a field charged with numerous normative images and blind spots, which terms do we choose? This panel confronts the mismatch between the common designations defining agricultural occupations and practices, and the ethnographic realities we study. We invite ethnographic papers that address the difficulties in conceptualizing farming across the globe. By sharing our working solutions, we jointly scrutinize the political, economic, and epistemic implications of how analytical terms shape our thinking and writing.