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Peasant Pasts

History and Memory in Western India

Vinayak Chaturvedi (Author)

Not available in South Asia, Myanmar

Paperback, 329 pages
ISBN: 9780520250789
June 2007
$34.95, £28.00
Other Formats Available:
Peasant Pasts is an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to writing histories of peasant politics, nationalism, and colonialism. Vinayak Chaturvedi's analysis provides an important intervention in the social and cultural history of India by examining the nature of peasant discourses and practices during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through rigorous archival study and fieldwork, Chaturvedi shows that peasants in Gujarat were active in the production and circulation of political ideas, establishing critiques of the state and society while promoting complex understandings of political community. By turning to the heartland of M.K. Gandhi's support, Chaturvedi shows that the vast majority of peasants were opposed to nationalism in the early decades of the twentieth century. He argues that nationalists in Gujarat established power through the use of coercion and violence, as they imagined a nation in which they could dominate social relations. Chaturvedi suggests that this littletold story is necessary to understand not only anticolonial nationalism but the direction of postcolonial nationalism as well.
List of Illustrations

1. Ranchod
2. The Bhagat and the Miracle
3. Dharala/Koli/Swordsman
4. The Patidars and the Kanbis
5. Becoming a Colonial Emissary
6. The Mukhi and the Fouzdar
7. Monitoring Peasants
8. Prophesy Unfulfilled
9. Defeating the Plague, Controlling Dharalas
10. The Dakore Pilgrimage
11. The King’s Procession
12. Ranchod’s Letter
13. The Book Collection
14. Kashi Patra: A Circulating Letter
15. The Practice of Cutting Trees
16. Official Battle Narratives
17. Dharala Battle Narratives
18. The Arrests
19. Ranchod’s Testimony
20. The Kingship
21. Friends and Enemies of the King
22. Symbols of Legitimacy
23. Oral Culture and Written Culture
24. The Criminal Case
25. The Aftermath

26. Politics Continued
27. Age of Darkness
28. Daduram
29. Surveillance
30. The Politics of Food
31. “The Dignity of Labor”
32. The Baraiya Conference Movement
33. Contesting Nationalism
34. Peasant Freedom
35. Police Reorganization
36. The Criminal Tribes Act
37. Underground Activities
38. “My Land Campaign”
39. The Labor Strike
40. The Kheda Satyagraha
41. Strikes and Raids
42. Nationalizing Dharala Raids
43. A Second “No-Revenue Campaign”
44. Deporting Dharalas
45. The Punitive Police Tax
46. “To Forget Past Enmities”
47. Ravishankar Vyas
48. The Last “No-Revenue Campaign”
49. The Coming of the Postcolonial
50. Becoming Indian

51. Small Discoveries
52. Chaklasi
53. Daduram’s Legacies
54. Returning to Kheda
55. Kalasinh Durbar
56. Raghupura
57. Local Knowledge
58. Hidden Histories
59. Erasing the Past
60. Narsiram
61. Seeing Daduram
62. Dayaram
63. Narsi Bhagat
64. History without Ends

Vinayak Chaturvedi is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine, and editor of Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial.
"This book offers an imaginatively conceived new model of combining structural analysis, meticulous social history, and fine-grained attention to the dynamic unfolding of political narratives. Anyone interested in the dialectics of state formation and peasant resistance, whether in early modern and nineteenth-century Europe, South and Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean and Latin America, will find it richly illuminating."—Geoff Eley, author of A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society

"Peasant Pasts bridges the supposedly unbridgeable gap between social history and postcolonial studies to provide a nuanced and highly readable account of peasant movements in colonial western India. It draws upon colonial archives, oral narrative accounts, and a whole host of other resources. Historians of not only India, but peasant political movements elsewhere in the 'Third World' will read it with pleasure and profit."—Sanjay Subrahmanyam, author of Explorations in Connected History: From the Tagus to the Ganges

"Where there is of course a considerable and rich South Asian tradition of history from below, and while the importance of studying peasant religion has been repeatedly stressed in the last two decades, there is simply no equivalent to the kind of work that Chaturvedi has attempted here."—Ajay Skaria, author of Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India

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