The Indian Village: Romantic Images versus Historical Realities Lecture by Dr. Sumit Guha In association with the South Asia Centre, LSE.

Date:06.06.2016
Time:05:30 pm
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When and Where

Date:06 June 2016
Time:06:30 pm
Organizer: ICCR
Location: London

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This lecture will review the realities of Indian village life and its social and political setting up to the late twentieth century. Bernard Cohn identified the ‘village view of India’ as one of the important strands in the understanding of the subcontinent. Village India was the title of an important book by McKim Marriott, and even today the village is the elementary unit in official efforts at decentralization of government. The “village view” of India came to be embodied in the publications of agrarian administrators, and a few missionaries like William Wiser. They paid exceptional regard to the organization of economic life, the conditions of agricultural production and rural institutions. Its darker side was well understood by Dr B.R. Ambedkar who famously described it as a “den of ignorance, narrowmindedness and communalism”. A new, revised, ‘village view’ of Indian society – one sensitive to inequalities of power and portents of change gradually emerged from research after Indian independence. But it is noticeable that all the scholars who have studied this problem have assumed that the village organization is itself a relatively unproblematic structure – arising perhaps out of the functional needs of isolated rural life. This talk will offer a more nuanced, historical view of the diversity and the historical evolution of Indian rural society through two millennia.

Dr. Sumit Guha is Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. His previous publications include Environment and Ethnicity in India, c.1200-1991 (Cambridge, 1999), Health and Population in South Asia from Earliest Times to the Present (C.Hurst and Co., 2001) and Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (Brill, 2013).

Chairperson : Ed Simpson (Professor of Social Anthropology, SOAS) 

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