26 August, 2012

Speaking of Peasants: Essays on Indian History and Politics in Honor of Walter Hauser

Speaking of Peasants: Essays on Indian History and Politics in Honor of Walter Hauser

By- William R. Pinch (ed.)

The present volume springs out of a festschrift conference to honor the career of Walter Hauser, professor emeritus of history at the University of Virginia and pioneer scholar in the study of Indian peasant movements.

Because Hauser’s work focuses on Bihar and the peasant leader, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, some of the authors, such as the late Arvind Narayan Das, Christopher Hill, and Sho Kuwajima, are concerned directly with peasant politics in Bihar. Other authors, such as Harry Blair, Majid Siddiqi, Harold Gould, and the late James R. Hagen, constrast agrarian history and politics in Bihar to other parts of India. A third group, including Stuart Corbridge, Ron Herring, and Ruhi Grover, investigate related questions in agrarian history and politics from regions formally outside of Bihar. A fourth group of authors, including Peter Robb, Ajay Skaria, and William R. Pinch, examine culture, religion, and meaning that inform (and are informed by) peasant politics. A fifth set of authors, Frederick H. Damon, Peter Gottschalk, and Mathew Schmalz, provide ethnographic context. Damon takes readers from Bihar to Melanesia and many points in between, with a focus on ethno-botany over three millennia; Gottschalk and Schmalz provide a closely detailed examination of a Bihari village, focusing in particular on the problem of religion. Importantly, these authors structure their investigations around a reversal of the ethnographer’s ‘gaze’.

In this spirit of reflexive reversal, the volume concludes with a reflection on the ‘project’ of South Asian studies in the United States by Hauser himself, focusing on (but not limited to) his experiences at the University of Virginia.

William R. (Vijay) Pinch is Professor of History of Wesleyan University.

ISBN 81-7304-746-4 2007 540p. Rs.1195/ Pounds 70

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