Social Scientist. v 15, no. 157 (June 1986) p. 42.

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Colonial Economy and Variations in Tribal Exploitation A Comparative Study in Thana and Khandesh Districts c 1818-1940

THE BASIC theme of this paper is to highlight the variations in the subsumption of tribals in Thana and Khandesh districts during the British period. Even as the colonial economy universalized contracts in land and labour, the specificities of tribal existence in the two districts and the conditions of the local economics in general shaped the particular land relations that emerged during the colonial period and created the peculiar 'sites' occupied by the tribals in the two regions. In some crucial respects however there were common elements that can be discerned in the structure of property relations and their reproduction in the respective areas.

Section I of the paper highlights some crucial elements of the pre-British economy and tribal existence in the (wo regions. Section II highlights aspects of the colonial economy that generated the forces leading to the differential impact on tribals. Even as tribal pauperisation was officially recognized, some aspects of the colonial culture legitimised such pauperisation in perspectives that are existent to this day.


Dhule and Jalgaon districts make up the Khandesh region of Maharashtra. Khandesh is bounded on the west by Gujarat and in the east by the Vidarbha part of Maharashtra. In the south it is bounden by the Nasik district and the Marathwada part of Maharashtra. In the northern part it borders on Madhya Pradesh. The Tapi Basin that we are concentrating upon lies in the north-west of Dhule district comprising talukas of Shahade, Talode and Nandurbar.

The Tapi river flows east-west across the district cutting the district into two almost equal halves. It forms a basin from the beginning of the

"'Lecturer in Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.

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