The Peasant and the Latifundium Revisited - On the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Rocco Scotellaro, the never forgotten
peasant-poet of Southern Italy, the peasant economy of the internal areas of the Mezzogiorno is revisited, with specific reference to the period from the end of the Second World War to the land reform programme. The biographical profiles contained in his Contadini del Sud, a seminal literary and sociological work, remain extremely indicative even today, for an understanding of the inner economic and social forces regulating the peasant condition in the post-war years. In the second part, a brief account is given of the different phases of the peasant movement which set out to change the old tenure system: the spontaneous land occupations from 1943 to 1946, the relative calm during 1947-48, the peaks of revolutionary peasant action in 1949-50. With implementation of the land reform programme the peasant epic comes to an end and economic and social processes
emerge that would, in a matter of just a few years, spell doom for the old peasant world.