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Gopal, Kusum (1995) Popular resistance to Zamindari oppression in eastern U.P., Northern India, 1920-60. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study examines popular politics in Uttar Pradesh with specific reference to Gorakhpur, Basti and Azamgarh bewtween 1920-60. The focus is on the politicisation of the kisans, ordinary men and women who were numerically the largest section of rural society. It is argued that their world views and political aspirations were informed by clearly defined notions of social justice and power relations, themselves based on particular problems stemming from the nature of julum, one of its meanings being the tyranny of the zamindars. This thesis makes extensive use of oral sources, utilising social anthropological tools and places greater weight on folk wisdom, local customs and cosmological beliefs. The social construction of gender is important to this study. It is argued that kisans' politics made no fundamental change to the pre-existing system of gender relations, because gender was not the object of protest. It is also argued that their political aspirations remained largely independent of official Congress politics: the kisans were not passive victims, but actively resisted and manipulated elements of elite domination by pronouncing their own goals. Although all kinds of popular associations with the environment, myths, legends and customs were used to mobilise the kisans, they realised their political identities not within the framework of the nationalist discourse, but against it. The Congress was forced to espouse the kisans' demand for outright land ownership and promise the abolition of zamindari in its bid to take over office. This study concludes by stating that the historical weight and energy of these popular movements decisively influenced the government and compelled it to adopt a socialist agenda.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:03

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