Land, Labour, Dispossession, and Politics among Scheduled Tribes in India: Framing an Adivasi Agrarian Question

Bose, Rajanya (2023) Land, Labour, Dispossession, and Politics among Scheduled Tribes in India: Framing an Adivasi Agrarian Question. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis conceptualises and enquires into an Adivasi Agrarian Question, rooted in Agrarian Marxism, to explore the class dynamics of ongoing agrarian changes among Adivasis. It studies i) land and labour as their bases of reproduction and differentiation, ii) dispossession, and iii) compares political struggles between two villages, one where social reproduction is primarily agrarian and the other primarily non-agrarian.

Its comparative analysis of West Bengal and Chhattisgarh finds that adivasis are internally differentiated owing to historical inequalities and through the dynamics of agrarian change and capitalist relations within and beyond agriculture. They also face varying forms of dispossession. In response, they pursue different political strategies focused on defending their land, better working conditions and wages, or making claims of the state.

In Chhattisgarh, land-based occupations form the primary basis of Kawars’ simple and expanded reproduction while Majhis and Agarias are typically landless and dependent on farm labour and precarious non-agrarian wage work. In the face of impending displacement due to coal mining, adivasis here have formed a cross-class cross-caste resistance with OBC groups. Building on a history of land and labour rights mobilisations, its current form advances the interests of petty capital, undermining the interests of adivasi classes of labour.

In West Bengal, Santhals are land-poor, primarily working as labourers in the urban construction sector, with limited differentiation through non-agrarian petty commodity production and salaried employment. Lodhas are landless and work under oppressive conditions in agricultural and non-agricultural wage work, demonstrating stigmatised exploitation between adivasi classes of labour. Faced with individual dispossession due to urbanisation and legacies of land reforms, Santhals are unable to build solidarities in defense of land rights or make demands to improve conditions of wage work. They focus on making welfare demands of the ruling party in return for electoral support, excluding Lodhas from such claim-making.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 10:37
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 10:37


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