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Axelby, Richard (2015) 'Hermit Village or Zomian Republic? An update on the political socio-economy of a remote Himalayan community.' European Bulletin of Himalayan research, 46. pp. 35-61.

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Hidden in a remote valley in Himachal Pradesh, the Village of Malana appears as a self-governing egalitarian community cosmologically committed to evading external influence. With its own system of village government and its own court for settling disputes, Malana enjoys a measure of village autonomy under its powerful tutelary deity, Jamlu. This article asks whether James Scott’s concept of ‘nonstate space’ can be extended to this isolated corner of the Indian Himalaya. Might Malana be a surviving example of what Pierre Clastres termed ‘a society against the state’? Why would the people of Malana opt for self-imposed isolation and how have they been able to maintain it? This paper follows the attempt made by Colin Rosser in the early 1950s to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in ‘the hermit village of Malana’. Reviewing Rosser’s efforts to solve the mystery of Malana’s physical, social and economic isolation, this paper considers changes in the society and economy of rural India and also in the ways in which anthropology as a discipline has approached these topics. Updating the story to the present permits a re-evaluation of Rosser’s finding as we consider how change has come to Malana village.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 09438254
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2018 19:56

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