Social Scientist. v 27, no. 312-313 (May-June 1999) p. 86.


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BOOK REVIEW

Peasant Movement in Bihar

Kaushal Kishore Sharma, Prabhakar Prasad Singh, Ran j an Kumar (eds.), Peasant Struggle in Bihar, 1831-1942: Spontaneity to Organisation, pp. xvii + 251, Patna, 1994, Price Rs 325.

This is an anthology of eighteen essays on socio-political struggles of the Bihar peasantry during the last one and a half century. They are uneven in quality and disparate as well, as such the collection lacks a clearly identifiable central theme or a conceptual framework. The editors have, however, tried to provide a semblance of a central theme - "spontaneity to organisation" - by arranging the essays in such a chronological sequence so as to give a broad idea of the character of successive phases of these struggles. The essays are on historiography, spontaneous and organised phases of peasant struggles during the colonial era, their relationship with Indian nationalism, and finally their characteristic transformations in the post-colonial period.

The collection starts with M.N. Karn's "Peasant Movements in Bihar: A Trend Analysis" wherein the writer, on the basis of some of his earlier studies sets out to analyse the nature and character of the Bihar peasants' struggles in the 19th and the 20th centuries but his approach is very selective. He selects only the 19th century tribal uprisings in the Chotanagpur division and the 20th century agrarian conflicts in central Bihar making his "trend analysis" a lopsided exercise. Prabhakar Prasad Singh's "Peasant Awakening and Historiography in Bihar", though good in itself, is hardly relevant to the theme of the anthology. His occasional references to Bihar have probably been made to validate its inclusion in this collection. J.C. Jha's two articles, one on the historiography of the tribal movements

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 5- 6, May - June 1999



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