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Bonds lost: Subordination, conflict and mobilisation in rural south India c. 1900-1970
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
1997 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines the transformation of rural social relations in the highlandsof south India during a period of rapid agricultural change. Long before the expansionof commercial crops in agriculture, the landowning community of farmers and thelandless agricultural labourers had been closely related to each other. During theeconomic change, the need of these labourers increased on the farms. As the labourerswere also leather workers, their skills were Indispensable to reassure the farmers ofthe increasingly necessary irrigation.

By a combination of a variety of government, mission and oral sources, thethesis shows that, between 1880s and 1930s, competition for labour scaled up in theregion and agricultural labourers were increasingly tied by advance payments to workfor a farmer. This is known as the pannai or farm system and included both dutiesand rights for the labourers. On account of this, economic expansion gained supportand social control was upheld. However, even after preconditions had been madeavailable to achieve a more profitable farming by replacing permanent by casuallabourers a substantial, permanent labour force was still employed on the farms. In thelate 1930s and 1940s, kinship-wise mobilisation among the Madhari labourers toconvert to Christianity was met by strong and sometimes violent resistance. Everymovement they made to break with Goundar authority was realised as a threat. Thus,during a decade, social rationality was given priority over economic rationality by thefarmers. A severe six-year long drought contributed to end this situation. The farmersfinally electrified irrigation and dismissed the major part of their permanent labourforce. Thus, the labourers not only gained free mobility but simultaneously lost therights and security that had been attached to their bonds.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1997. , 276 p.
Keyword [en]
History, India, twentiethcentury history, social relations, low-caste mobilisation, agricultural change, mission
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3ISBN: 81-7304-193-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3DiVA: diva2:162184
Public defence
1997-05-23, Room X, Universitetshuset, Uppsala universitet, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 1997-05-02 Created: 1997-05-02 Last updated: 2012-06-28Bibliographically approved

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