The Russian Peasant Studies is the successor to the yearbook Peasant Studies first published in 1996 and edited by two prominent agrarian scientists – Viktor Danilov and Teodor Shanin. The yearbook was published by the Center for Peasant Studies and Agrarian Reforms of the Intercenter and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. It was created under the post-Soviet agrarian reforms, hopes and disappointments of perestroika, which certainly raised the issues of the historical and contemporary fates of rural Russia and peasantry in the 20th century.
As a yearbook, the Peasant Studies aimed primarily at reviving the intellectual heritage of Russian peasant scientists of the early 20th century, whose lives and works were forgotten due to the tragic events of wars, revolutions, repressions and Soviet collectivization. Certainly, the main task of the yearbook was the integration of Soviet and post-Soviet agrarian research into the world agrarian science by publication of the translations of classical and contemporary Russian and international peasant-studies projects. The yearbook aimed at introducing to the readers works of Russian and foreign scholars on the interdisciplinary study and understanding of the forms and directions of the agrarian development of Russia and the world. The structure of the yearbook Peasant Studies – theory, history, the present time and scientific life – comprehensively reflected the work of historians, economists, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, cultural and political scientists, who studied rural worlds in their past, present and future.
Not always the yearbook Peasant Studies managed to be published annually. From 1996 to 2005, only five issues were published, and among them, in 2002, the special issue Reflective Peasant Studies – a collection of the selected methodological and analytical works based on the data of field studies conducted in the 1990s by the Center for Peasant Studies of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. The Peasant Studies published in 2005 was dedicated to the memory of its first editor Viktor Danilov and consisted of unique historical and sociological data.
Since 2011, the yearbook Peasant Studies has been published by the Center for Agrarian Studies of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, which sought to preserve and develop the research traditions of Viktor Danilov and Teodor Shanin, their colleagues and students.
Thus, in its twenty-year history the yearbook Peasant Studies managed to create a unique academic network of Russian and foreign agrarian researchers, who conducted a number of large-scale interdisciplinary agrarian projects. The works published in the Peasant Studies served as the basis for a number of courses at several Russian universities.
Despite its title, the yearbook has never limited its issues only to peasant studies and became an interdisciplinary agrarian edition that described the course of Russian and foreign agrarian reforms, challenges of rural development of large and small agricultural production, market and mixed economies, innovations in agribusiness, rural local self-government and resettlement, rural-urban migration, informal economy, rural biographies, interdisciplinary methods of agrarian studies. However, the central and most debated topic of the Peasant Studies has always been the concept of ‘peasantry’ in the contemporary world. The widespread skeptical rationalist opinion of our time insists that the peasant question was relevant in the past but in the late 20th century disappeared under the pressure of ‘universal progress’ represented in the rural sphere by the expansion of industrial agribusiness, i.e. to seriously discuss the importance of the peasantry today is as if acceptable only for conservative romantics and radical utopians.
The debates on the fatal disappearance of the peasantry from the paths of social development in Russia and the world, and on the possible new prospects for the still numerous peasantry and similar rural and even urban social strata – farmers, agricultural workers, summer residents – continue on the pages of the journal Russian Peasant Studies together with the studies of new directions of rural evolution related to the agrarian challenges of our time, development of new agricultural and biotechnologies, prospects for the cultural transformation of the countryside and intensification of rural-urban migration.
As a quarterly edition, today the scientific journal Russian Peasant Studies aims at objective and timely analysis of the paths of Russian and international rural development and at supporting large-scale cooperation of agrarian researchers representing different scientific disciplines.