P30


Village restudies in South Asia 
Convenors:
Patricia Jeffery (University of Edinburgh)
Edward Simpson (SOAS)
Location:
C406
Start time:
26 July, 2012 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
2

Short Abstract:

In this Round-table session several well-known scholars will consider the methodological and empirical consequences of ‘village restudies’ in South Asia. Participants will include Richard Axelby, Jan Breman, Chris Fuller, John Harriss, Zoe Headley, Jonathan Parry, Adrian Mayer, David Mosse and Gerry Rodgers.

Long Abstract

Social scientists have increasingly focused on the important social, economic and political developments in the fast-growing urban and metropolitan centres of South Asia. Yet around 70% of South Asia's population still lives in villages which have themselves been deeply affected by such developments: villagers are bound into the wider economy through labour migration, are exposed to new ideas about the good life and can obtain a greater range of consumer goods. In recent years, some scholars have returned to villages that they or others had previously studied through intensive fieldwork to assess how these wider developments play out at the local level.

Such 'restudies' offer fascinating insights into the nature and direction of social and economic change but they also raise complex methodological and ethical issues. How best can we analyse comparison over time? How can we measure and conceptualise change? What should we do about issues that are crucial nowadays but on which little or no data were collected during earlier research? How should we address the ethical challenges of handling data from a bygone age (sometimes collected by another scholar) that run the danger of breaching the confidences of earlier informants? We invite contributions from scholars who have tackled challenges such as these. This panel arises from the research project "Rural change and Anthropological Knowledge in post-colonial India: A Comparative 'restudy' of F.G. Bailey, Adrian C. Mayer and David F. Pocock" and will be a round-table discussion rather than entailing the formal presentation of papers. In this Roundtable Session several well-known scholars will consider ‘village restudies’ in South Asia. Participants will include Richard Axelby, Jan Breman, Chris Fuller, John Harriss, Zoe Headley, Jonathan Parry, Adrian Mayer, David Mosse and Gerry Rodgers.

Such 'restudies' offer fascinating insights into the nature and direction of social and economic change but they also raise complex methodological and ethical issues. How best can we analyse comparison over time? How can we measure and conceptualise change? What should we do about issues that are crucial nowadays but on which little or no data were collected during earlier research? How should we address the ethical challenges of handling data from a bygone age (sometimes collected by another scholar) that run the danger of breaching the confidences of earlier informants?

This panel arises from the research project "Rural change and Anthropological Knowledge in post-colonial India: A Comparative 'restudy' of F.G. Bailey, Adrian C. Mayer and David F. Pocock" and will be a round-table discussion rather than entailing the formal presentation of papers. In this Roundtable Session several well-known scholars will consider 'village restudies' in South Asia. Participants will include Richard Axelby, Jan Breman, Chris Fuller, John Harriss, Zoe Headley, Jonathan Parry, Adrian Mayer, David Mosse and Gerry Rodgers.