Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India

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Foreword by James Scott

This classic work in subaltern studies explores the common elements present in rebel consciousness during the Indian colonial period. Ranajit Guha—intellectual founder of the groundbreaking and influential Subaltern Studies Group—describes from the peasants’ viewpoint the relations of dominance and subordination in rural India from 1783 to 1900.
Challenging the idea that peasants were powerless agents who rebelled blindly against British imperialist oppression and local landlord exploitation, Guha emphasizes their awareness and will to effect political change. He suggests that the rebellions represented the birth of a theoretical consciousness and asserts that India’s long subaltern tradition lent power to the landmark insurgence led by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet as long as landlord authority remains dominant in a ruling culture, Guha claims, all mass struggles will tend to model themselves after the unfinished projects documented in this book.
Students and scholars will welcome this paperback edition of Guha’s 1983 original, which was distributed on a limited scale in the United States. It will influence new generations studying colonialism, postcolonialism, subaltern studies, historiography, anthropology, and Indian, Asian, and Latin American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A classic in subaltern studies as well as in postcolonial studies.”—José Rabasa, University of California, Berkeley

“A remarkable achievement.”—Patricia Seed, Rice University

“Full of sparkling ideas and written in vivid and compelling prose.”—Arjun Appadurai, University of Chicago

“Guha’s contributions to historiography are fundamental to colonial and postcolonial studies. By directing our focus to the question of consciousness or self-awareness in the making of peasant rebellions in colonial India, he corrects and redirects the writing of history.”—Sara Castro-Klarén, Johns Hopkins University

“The most significant—and potentially the most influential—work of social theory since Michel Foucault’s Dicipline and Punish.”—John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh

“Very unusual and original. Guha presents a new set of conceptual categories to understand the peasant situation in the postcolonial era. His work has transcended the local boundaries of India and has inspired the foundation of similar research projects in the Latin American field such as the Latin American Subaltern Studies Group.”—Ileana Rodriguez, Ohio State University

“Written in a concise, easy-to-read style and offering a wealth of examples to illustrate each point, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India is the kind of book that our students desperately crave.”—Marcia Stephenson, Purdue University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822323488
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Series: Oxford India Paperbacks Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,202,697
  • Lexile: 1700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ranajit Guha is Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. He is the founder-editor of Subaltern Studies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the Duke Edition
1 Introduction 1
2 Negation 18
3 Ambiguity 77
4 Modality 109
5 Solidarity 167
6 Transmission 220
7 Territoriality 278
8 Epilogue 333
Glossary 339
Bibliography 345
Index 355
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