ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Land, Labour and Power

Based on the restudy in 2012-14 of Jamgod in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh, which was first studied by Adrian C Mayer in the 1950s, an overview of changes in landownership and use, and the relations of labour and production are presented. Locating the analysis at the intersection of land and labour, the aim is to explore how local power structures and personal aspirations have transformed.

F G Bailey's Bisipara Revisited

F G Bailey, the renowned British social anthropologist, conducted fieldwork in Bisipara in the highlands of Orissa in the 1950s to examine the ways in which the state, democracy and new forms of economy were changing the traditional organisation and apprehension of power and status. At the time, and following the Temple Entry Act, the former untouchables of the village attempted to gain entry to the Shiva temple. On that occasion, and as Bailey recounts, they were unsuccessful. A new fieldwork conducted in 2013 in the same location presents an update of the continuing drama surrounding the Shiva temple, against a backdrop of the changing polity and economy of the village, and as a manifestation of contested postcolonial identity politics.

Revisiting the Rural in 21st Century India

The Review of Rural Affairs this time focuses largely on "restudies" of villages that were studied by social anthropologists and economists in the 1950s. The papers are not simply about documenting the unfolding evolutionary process of development, but bring new perspectives of social science understanding to the study of rural society, and also reflect on the enterprise of anthropology and fieldwork. Jamgod in Madhya Pradesh, Sundarana in Gujarat, Bisipara in Odisha, and Palanpur and Khanpur in Uttar Pradesh were restudied, while one paper presents the results of a fresh study of villages in Nagaland.

Agrarian Transformation and the New Rurality in Western Uttar Pradesh

Based on a multisite ethnographic restudy of villages in western Uttar Pradesh, a decade after the first study in 2004-05, the rise of rural non-farm economy, changing demographics, growing educational opportunities, and increasing mobility across castes and communities are mapped. Also, an analysis of how these changes redefine the nature and culture of rural life in the region is attempted.

Non-farm Diversification, Inequality and Mobility in Palanpur

Data from seven decades of survey in Palanpur provide insights into the changing nature of the village economy. Starting as a predominantly agrarian economy, Palanpur has seen non-farm employment emerge as a major driver of growth and distribution of income in the village economy, but accompanied by increasing inequality. There is evidence of greater mobility among the disadvantaged in Palanpur alongside falling inter-generational mobility. Preliminary analysis suggests that the nature of non-farm activities has become increasingly casual and informal, thereby more accessible to households at the bottom of the distribution, but still significantly influenced by access to networks and family ties, particularly for the more remunerative and stable non-farm jobs.

Village Restudies

An account of the inception, management and initial conclusions of a research project which "restudied" three villages, one each in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat is presented. These villages had been first studied in the 1950s by British anthropologists F G Bailey, Adrian C Mayer and David F Pocock. The new research was to focus on the sociological conditions of life in these villages today and compare the results of the new surveys with the data from the 1950s. The material presented here also points to some of the strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncratic charms of "restudies."

Inequality in Rural Nagaland

Tribal villages are usually perceived to be the egalitarian counterparts to villages in India that are ruled by hierarchical caste structures. Taking the case of Ao Naga villages, clan rank and class are found to be important for understanding the changing structures of inequality. Today, these villages are deeply integrated into the larger milieus: politics, administration, education and the market economy. The social mechanisms responsible for inequality are now to a large degree centred outside the village, and living in a village has become almost identical with a lower social status. One result of this process is that instead of clan ranks, the access to outside resources forms the basis of social inequality within the village. Based on secondary sources as well as original fieldwork, an account of how this integration leads to class differentiations at the village level is presented.

Migration, Bachelorhood and Discontent among the Patidars

Juxtaposing data collected in the 1950s with data from 2013, this paper describes some of the consequences of a crisis of agriculture in India as a crisis of values and aspirations. Among a relatively prosperous Patidar community in western India, agriculture continues to be economically remunerative while farmers are considered poor. Instead, the ability to secure a job away from land, to move out of the village and possibly overseas have come to constitute new markers of status in a traditionally competitive society. The paper departs from common representations of the caste as an upwardly mobile and successful group, and focuses instead on the discontent and on those who try to achieve the new values of the caste, but fail. As a consequence of failure it shows how Patidars recur to what, from an outsider's point of view, may seem paradoxical: in order to "move up" and participate in the culture and economy of the caste, they have to "move down." In this respect, the paper also contributes to understanding the unevenness of India's growth and the contrary trends that work both to strengthen and weaken caste identity.

Studying Women and the Women's Movement in India

This paper is an autobiographical account that draws on the author's research over close to six decades on India as a feminist anthropologist interested in agrarian south India. The feminist lens to her includes looking at all of the issues that concern social scientists, workers in the humanities and in the legal and health professions, as well as political activists, making use of methods already developed (by women as well as men) but now including a crucial women's approach. In addition, as opposed to the male approach which has been dominant until fairly recently (despite the pressure early on from B R Ambedkar), a wide range of feminist approaches has come to include, since independence, the effects of caste and class on women's lives. The paper attempts to provide an account of the author's work especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and her current engagements with movements for sustainable agriculture.

Globalisations, Mobility and Agency

Feminist researchers integrate macrostructural processes with everyday micropolitics by locating women's lives at the centre of the research process. Data from this research demonstrate that changing attitudes towards women's education, "good" jobs, and productive work lives help women establish a social position from which they use their agency to successfully negotiate when and whom they will marry, continue to work after marriage, voice opinions against dowry, and navigate their position within and outside the household. Without investigating how gender norms have changed over time and what working in globalised workplaces means to women, it would be easy to miss the change in women's lives and repeat the familiar refrain of exploitation of women in the global South.

Impractical Topics, Practical Fields

The histories of the women's movement's protests transformed the discursive and juridical method of constituting rape as an object of reform and research. A traversal of different kinds of registers--protests and law reform, pedagogy and research, testimony and lawyering--reflects on how publicity, sexual violence and public secrecy constitute a field. We must pay attention to the question of method not just in relation to feminist, sociological or anthropological research, but also to the question of methods in lawyering and law reform.

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