Social Scientist. v 19, no. 219-20 (Aug-Sept 1991) p. 3.


Graphics file for this page
JUDY WHITEHEAD*

The State and Oppositional Discourse in Central Uttar Pradesh^

This paper examines the construction of Oppositional symbols among small and marginal peasant producers and landless labourers in Central Uttar Pradesh. It focuses on the relationship between the construction of a set of Oppositional symbols, language, and mythology, on the one hand, and the institutional hegemonization by the rich peasantry of local state institutions, on the other hand. In order to understand the boundaries of Oppositional discourse in this case study, it is necessary to analyse relations of political domination at the village, district, and national levels, since elements of local resistance are contextualized within the specific parameters of state and social formation in India. Discursive relations between poor and rich peasantry—in this case quite Oppositional—were reproduced at the village level within the context of state-sponsored policies of rich-peasant led capitalization of agriculture. (P.C. Joshi, 1971; F. Frankel 1969,1978; U. Patnaik 1971; P. Brass 1981) The construction of symbolic boundaries between the world-views of rich and poor peasants is thus both permeated with and framed within the broad strokes of state to village relations and policies. These wider relations are mediated and prismed through political parties and platforms, governmental and quasi-gpvernniental development organizations, all of which link the concerns and world-views of elite class fractions in the village to state

* Department of Anthropology, McCill University, Quebec.

** I would like to thank the Sodal Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding the fieldwork which made this study possible. In India, there are many people to thank. For reasons of space, I will mention only those to whom 1 am most indebted: Hari Swarup and Maya Chaudhary of Sitapur for their ongoing support and hospitality in many ways: material, social intellectual, and personal; Shiva Varma of Kanpur for his encouragement and intellectual contributions; I would also like to thank my research assistants, Shikha Sen and Rashmi Paliwalla, as well as Jayoti Gupta for her many discussions in New Delhi. Needless to say, without them, this research would have been much more difficult and the analysis less clear. For any continuing errors of interpretation, I am solely responsible.

Social Scientist, Vol. 19, Nos. 8-9, August-September, 1991



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page