Social Scientist. v 16, no. 177 (Feb 1988) p. 60.


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jRevolt and Religion : Petty Bourgeois Romanticisation

DAVID HARDIMAN ; The Coming of the Devi: Adivasi Assertion in Western Ihdia ; OUP, 1987, pp 248.

THE subject Haridiman takes up, the process of the self-assertion of a dlažs, of oppressed peasantry and agricultural labour, is indeed a rich and fruitfull theme that requires much more development in both the sphere of history and of anthropology. And in its small way. Social Scientist from its very inception in 1972 had attempted to fill this gap. This has involved in critiques of two eclectic tendencies : the nationalist historiography of Bfpail Chaadra, Majid Siddiqui and others, and the school that produced tte Subaltern Studies series of history.

In his present work, Hardiman not only takes the nationalist histo-tians to task as they find it "hard to come to terms with the fact that these movements were started and carried on by the Adivasis themselves,'51 but also Criticises the socialist historians, who he claims ignore the religiosity df the Adivasis, "even though it must have had a profound bearing on th6ir state of consciousness. . . They confine their studies to highly militant ^(higgles in which the economic cause of discontent appears to be of far greater consequence than any informing religious ideology. Less militant atfd4 more obviously ^religious' movements, of the sort with which we are concertled here, appear to them to be suffused with a 'backward looking1 perhaps ^petty bourgeois^ religiosity which they believe cripples the enterprise from the start. Such movements have, in consequence, been ignored."1

He has, however, a deeper critique than that of Marxist historiagraphy which he states in a footnote : "Nowadays western Marxist historians have largely abandoned the vulgar base/super-structure metaphor. . . . Historical determination is seen to be full of unevenness and lack of congruity and to involve altogether more complex processes"8 Having adandoned this fundamental basis of materialism, all sorts of pilfalls develop in analysing raw material, leading to erroneous conclusions which could easily be resolved had the author cared to accept the basic material nature of life. He takes it for granted that the term Kaliparaj, used for the tribes he is studying, is



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