• fire;
  • land tenure;
  • peasant revolt;
  • political ecology

ABSTRACT. Fire is a fundamental tool within a broad spectrum of vegetation-management strategies, from swidden agriculture to plantation forestry. Through the seemingly pyromanic activity of incendiarism, fire assumes additional significance in the human-environment relationship. Case studies from England, Algeria, and the southern United States serve to illustrate the circumstance of fire as an indication of agrarian discontent and a weapon of peasant resistance. Other documented cases of incendiarism reveal that use of fire in the landscape has expanded from a constructive ecosystem-manipulation technique to a destructive form of protest undertaken by the oppressed or disempowered.