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Rashid, Hashim (2023) The Agrarian Question in West Punjab (1885-2020): Market Formations, Rural Differentiation, and Kissan Politics in an Agrarian Colony. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Combining theoretical insights from Marxist agrarian political economy and peasant studies with the practices of agrarian movements, the thesis traces the trajectories of agrarian change and kissan politics in West Punjab from the British-led canal colonisation in 1885 up until the contemporary period. I argue that agrarian politics in West Punjab has been shaped by shifting imperatives of accumulation and reproduction for differentiated agrarian producers, as mediated by changing market formations, new forms of ecological stress and state-led shifts in agrarian political economy. Examining the distinct nature of agrarian crises generated in the colonial, national-developmental and neoliberal periods alongside the contemporaneous development of agrarian movements is critical to bridging the gap between agrarian and peasant studies. I centre the mobilizational strategies and ideological syntheses forged by agrarian struggles led by the Pagri Sambhaal Jatta Lehar (1907), the West Pakistan Kissan Committee (1947-1971) and the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (2009-now) among others to analyse how kissan identities, rural class alliances, and engagements with wider national, anticolonial and socialist politics have dynamically shaped agrarian politics in the region. Combining fieldwork, archival research, political economic analysis and interviews with kissan organisers, the thesis will engage with debates around peasant struggles, farmers movements, modes of production and the capitalist transition in agriculture. It will show the deepening of capitalist relations of production in the Punjabi countryside since the colonial period has been contested, negotiated and in turn shaped by kissan movements that defy the distinctions between peasant and farmer, feudal and capitalist, and subsistence and accumulation. Thus, the ways in which kissan movements in West Punjab have engaged with changing agrarian markets, production relations, and patterns of rural class differentiation allows the development of new synergies between the Agrarian and Peasant Questions. Key words: Punjab, Pakistan, peasant movements, rural differentiation, agrarian change.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Leandro Vergara-Camus and Subir Sinha
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2023 16:59
Funders: Other

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