Closed Corporate Peasant Communities in Mesoamerica and Central Java

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
Closed Corporate Peasant Communities in Mesoamerica and Central Java

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This study concerns the recurrent features in the social, economic, and religious organization of peasant groups in two world areas, widely separated by past history and geographical space: Mesoamerica and Central Java. It explains these structural features as outcomes of the dynamic interaction between community and nation, and not as features of community organization alone. One of the salient aims of modern anthropology, conceived as a science, is to define recurrent sequences of cause and effect; that is, to formulate cultural laws. The cultural configuration discussed is the organization of peasant groups into closed, corporate communities. Peasant communities in both areas show strong tendencies to restrict membership in the community to people born and raised within its boundaries, and maintain strong attitudes against accumulated wealth. The closed corporate peasant communities in both areas are socially and culturally isolated from the larger society in which they exist.

Keywords: Mesoamerica; Central Java; peasant communities; cultural laws; modern anthropology

Chapter.  5528 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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