The article aims at reconstructing some elements of the contemporary debate on rural development policies in developing countries, of the role of the agrarian question, and of the role of the peasants. After presenting a reflection on the wide debate about what is historically the agrarian question, and how it can be understood today, the article analyzes the rural world in developing countries (with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa) both in relation to development discourse and in relation to the processes of capitalist accumulation. It discusses also the debate on whether peasants still exists (because of the relevant and widespread processes of de-agranianisation), and on peasants’ economic and political role, in relation to the ongoing struggles for their own survival and to political reforms (such as land reforms). The final argument is that these issues are complex and diverse in different regions, while stressing the fact that there is a political space for peasants through new and varied processes of repeasantisation.
Keywords: Agrarian question; peasants; developing countries; rural classes; primitive accumulation; re-peasantisation