Pastoral scene


The Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale is an experimental, interdisciplinary effort to reshape how a new generation of scholars understands rural life and society. Our basic goal is to infuse categories of social science research in danger of becoming purely statistical and abstract with the fresh air of popular knowledge and reasoning about poverty, subsistence, cultivation, justice, art, law, property, ritual life, cooperation, resource use, and state action.

The many hands from many disciplines that have shaped this Program share three premises.

The first is that any satisfactory analysis of agrarian development must begin with the lived experience, understandings, and values of its historical subjects.

The second premise is that the study of the Third World (and what was, until recently, called the Second World) must never be segregated from the historical study of the west, or the humanities from the social sciences. In this spirit, we aim to bring together streams of scholarship that are rarely in touch.

Finally, we are convinced that the only way to loosen the nearly hegemonic grip of the separate disciplines on how questions are framed and answered is to concentrate on themes of signal importance to several disciplines. By building a sustained community of interdisciplinary conversation and by demonstrating what creative trespassing can accomplish, we hope to set a standard of integrative work that will act as a magnet.

The Program began formally with academic year 1991-92, thanks to support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Yale University.