Working Papers

What's Happening to the Village? Surinder S Jodhka Abstract
Based on a revisit to two villages of Haryana after a gap of 20 years (1988-89 and 2008-09), the paper provides a historical overview of the process of development and change in a micro setting. Locating the process of social and economic transformation witnessed in the two villages in the context of Green Revolution technology, and later, the introduction of large-scale industrial projects in the area, it tries to explore the nature of changes taking place in the internal structure (caste and class relations) of the agrarian economy; the changing nature of the relationship of villages with neighboring urban settlements in terms of employment and aspirations; and the emerging nature of power relations in the local level political institutions

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Understanding Ruralities Contemporary Debates Manish Thakur Abstract
Amidst the growing scholarly pronouncements on the declining sociological significance of the village and the village studies, and the equally enticing postcolonial theoretical concerns about the de-spatialised cultural flows and diasporic hybridity, this paper makes a plea for a possible renewal of village studies. Although the village was hardly a container par excellence of the larger processes of rural/agrarian social change, it anchored much of Indian sociology as the real or perceived ontological entity without necessarily being an explanandum in sociological research. Obviously, the village is no longer the convenient methodological site for ethnographic fieldwork in the old ways thanks to the thickening and deepening of the state apparatuses in our times, and the attendant processes of migration and mobility. It is time we grafted new theoretical and methodological concerns onto existing preoccupations. To understand ruralities today we need new sites and modes of enquiry. We may be required to erect tents on railway platforms to understand the village and the villager than staying with the old village headman. To comprehend the village dynamics, we need to make many more visits to panchayat, taluka and district headquarters, and the local Thana, than we have been conventionally used to. Thus, tracking the trail of the villagers will definitely mean the demise of single-village studies, and recourse to methodological repertoire of multi-sited fieldwork and political ethnography.

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Ummah, Qaum and Watan Tanwer Fazal Abstract
The tension between the 'territoriality' of watan (country) or qaum (nation), and the 'universality' of Islamic ummah (muslim brotherhood) has remained intense and alive among theorists and practitioners of Islam in India. A search for the theological validation for Muslim presence in India, required reconciliation between territorial affiliations of Indian Muslims on the one hand, and their assumed propensity towards pan-Islamism on the other. In the period prior to Independence, the unsettled debate had variegated manifestations: a. Muslim nationalism leading to Partition; b. territorial nationalism that argued for Hindu-Muslim entente and; c. a refutation of both, the pan-Islamic trend. Going by broad historical sweeps, one identifies three distinct phases in the trajectory of Muslim politics. The initial phase of 'minorityism' with claims over cultural and political safeguards; the second phase in the decade preceding Independence when the theory of a distinct 'Muslim nation' gained salience among sections of Muslims of north India; and the post-Independent phase in which Muslims again as a 'minority' have emphasized on multicultural co-existence with cultural rights. In recent years, the Muslim identity is disaggregated further with powerful voices of 'minorities within minority' construed around caste and gender receiving political attention and articulation. The tension between ummah, qaum and watan has in an altered situation called for new innovations in thought and Muslim intellectual exercise responded by dissociating the two as operational in different contexts without committing to any hierarchisation of identity and thereof, of loyalty. This paper attempts to analytically separate various threads in Muslim political thought, without missing the context in which they emerged and gained predominance. It looks into various turns and twists, theoretical shifts, accommodations and innovations that the Muslim elite, irrespective of their ideological location, have made to come to terms with the idea of Indian nationhood.

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State of Injustice: The Indian State and Poverty John Harriss Abstract
This paper provides a brief history of the actions of the Indian state in regard to poverty, and offers a statement of the poverty problem, since it takes an axiomatic view that the persistence of extensive and deep poverty shows the failure of the promise of social justice. It then discusses the formulation by Akhil Gupta as to why the Indian state kills poor people arguing that Akhil’s conceptualization falls short of an adequate explanation. Finally, the paper asks the question how far do recent legislations address the questions that are discussed in the paper.

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Interrogating ‘Dalitness’: The Making of a “Subaltern” Community in Postcolonial Odisha Byasa Moharana Abstract
Working with the framework of “structure and agency”, this paper seeks to interrogate what it means to be a “Dalit” in modern India. While agreeing that there exists a dialectical relationship between social structure and subaltern agency, the interrogation traverses through the terrain of modernist scholarship, and challenges the “mainstream” Dalit political conceptualization regarding who is a “Dalit” and who is not, or what constitutes a “genuine” Dalit assertion and what does not.

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Unusual Expressions of Social Protests: Witchcraft Accusations in Jalpaiguri, India Soma Chaudhuri Abstract
This paper argues for a much-needed sociological discourse to look at the unique story of witch-hunts in the Jalpaiguri tea plantation. Taking a detailed look at the complex labor-management relationship within the plantation, it traces how seemingly petty conflicts within the adivasi workers community that result in witchcraft accusations are a product of alienation experienced by the workers, nestled in a wage economy. The paper has two goals: One, to stress the need for a sociological analysis on the topic of witchcraft accusations and witch-hunts in general; and two, to highlight the problem of witch-hunts among the tea plantation workers in Jalpaiguri.

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Models of Political Analysis: A Contemporary Re-appraisal of F. G. Bailey and the Manchester ‘School’ Gitika De Abstract
This paper looks back at an influential tradition of the ethnographic analysis of politics, through the figure of one of its pioneers, F. G. Bailey, with a view to underline the ways in which he anticipated later developments in the anthropological study of societies and polities. Through a re-appraisal of a rich and varied body of work that F. G. Bailey has produced over the last six decades, it show how through a processual political analysis, Bailey arrived at an understanding of what is specific and what is general in political practices across comparative spatial and temporal contexts; the contingent and complementary nature of explanation of political phenomena; the practical logic of the functioning of institutional politics; and the play of morality and expediency in politics. Further, it locates his work in the contemporary discursive context of the analysis of politics in India, highlighting both his methodological and theoretical repertoire as a legacy providing important insights for current disciplinary concerns of political sociology in India.

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Queering Indian Sociology: A Critical Engagement Pushpesh Kumar Abstract
The paper is an attempt towards queering Indian sociology by incorporating the perspective of the hitherto ignored ‘publics’- the sexual minorities- whose lives are waiting to be recognized as a ‘sub-field’ in South Asian Sociology. It also dispels the myth that alternative sexual orientation is a purely western idea and issues of ‘erotic justice’ are alien to Indian and South Asian cultures. Further, queering here is not equated with only protests through queer art, avant-garde experimentation and life-style identity politics but includes a ‘critical sexuality perspective’ which foregrounds experiences of subaltern sexual subjects like ‘working class lesbians’, hijras and kothis to map the agenda of sexual transformation and erotic justice. In this sense, the LGBT movement has to be critiqued for not engaging with the issue of caste and class. The paper seeks to broader the concept of ‘erotic justice’ by delineating and emphasizing its connections with class, caste and global politics of sexual liberation.

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Property and Publics: Negotiating State-Citizen Relationships in Christiania Mahuya Bandyopadhyay Abstract
In the summer of 1971, many Danish citizens, mostly the homeless and those living a hippie life, squatted on vast tracts of vacant and pristinely beautiful land belonging to the military in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen. Over the years, this area became marked as Freetown Christiania, a social experiment that flourished despite numerous conflicts with the state. In 2011, the community entered into a historic agreement with the State to buy a majority area of the squatted land. Following this Christiania would be managed by a foundation, consisting of Christianites and some ‘outsiders’. The agreement negotiates and articulates Christianites right to and control over the land and property where they have been living for the last forty years. People’s relationships to property in Christiania is further complicated by the overwhelming presence of hash and the hash market. The paper thus deals with the community’s engagement with two kinds of property relations – relations to, and mediated by, land and relations through hash.

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