THE ‘MESOPOTAMIAN CONNECTION’

THE ‘MESOPOTAMIAN CONNECTION’- The microlithic tool-makers who settled at a place now called Mehrgarh,   in the Bolan River basin in Baluchistan, initiated a new phase of human organization in India which has shattered all previous beliefs about early society there. From the first forays by European scholars into Indian prehis- tory during the late nineteenth … Read more

THE PRE-FORMATION OF INDIAN CIVILIZATION

Human communities are thought to have inhabited the Indian subcontinent for 500,000 years, according to stone age sites found scattered between the far south of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Soan and Beas river valleys in northern Punjab, and from one coast to the other; estimates of dates for some of these range between … Read more

HISTORIAN’S CHOICE

As already implied by the notion that a book like this could and perhaps should be written or read from the present to the past, it should be taken not as a recording of events as they sequentially unfolded in real time but rather as an accounting. In the first instance, it is an account … Read more

FULL CIRCLE: THE OPPRESSED APPEAL TO RELIGION

Unnoticed until quite recently have been other voices who have also resorted to a religious idiom to press their appeals for justice. These groups were sub- ordinate to, and victims of, that petty bourgeoisie which had succeeded in making religious communalism their ideology, just as the professional bour- geoisie made secularism theirs. In an era … Read more

STATES WITHOUT COMMUNITIES; COMMUNITIES AS COMMUNALISM

By the later nineteenth century, after the great Mutiny of 1857, British policy was set to undermine the territorial basis of communities. This was accom- plished partly by converting erstwhile locality chieftains into dependent land- lords, breaking any that resisted the change; partly by atomizing previous territorial unities; partly by legal changes to individuate what … Read more

THE ROLE OF RELIGION AND IDEOLOGY

Hinduism and caste relations must be situated within some general social context to provide them with useful ideological content rather than an unde- fined and vague global explanatory privilege. Caste, religion and values were defined by and to a degree fell under the custodianship of India’s massive petty bourgeoisie, and caste and Hinduism were adopted … Read more

DECORTICATED COMMUNITIES

Rural communities of eighteenth-century India were partly unified, but always stratified. Moreover, they were increasingly connected with and dependent upon, but also opposed to, the larger political, social and cultural world. That connection and dependency dated from the early medieval age when polities were constituted of state regimes and communities, and communities contin- ued to … Read more

COMMUNITIES WITHOUT STATES

The idea of complex communities persisting over an extended period of time and space forced itself upon me some years ago when, in Paris, I visited the superb exhibition devoted to the microlithic site of Mehrgarh, near the Bolan Pass. This site had completely overturned previous beliefs about the pre- and proto-history of the subcontinent. … Read more

RESITUATING COMMUNITIES AND STATES

In the evolution of political forms in India, environmental factors, economic complexity and religious ideology all played important and interlinked roles. As a first step in delineating the long conjoined history of states and com- munities in the subcontinent, I propose the following chronological scheme: Communities without states from bce 7000 to 800. Communities as … Read more

THE SEGMENTARY STATE

I disagree with this Eurocentric political formulation. Colonial subjugation during the eighteenth century altered and may have distorted the trajectory of state formation in India, but even before the imposition of British domi- nance, and very likely as a precondition of that dominance, relations between states and historic urban and rural communities had changed irreversibly. … Read more