P24
Inequality, subalternity and capitalist development in contemporary South Asia

Convenors:
Luisa Steur (University of Amsterdam)
Alf Gunvald Nilsen (University of Bergen)
Location:
22G74
Start time:
25 July, 2014 at 11:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The panel interrogates how typologies that have historically emerged to capture the inequality of certain subaltern populations relate to today's lived realities - of livelihood and mobilization - and are (re)produced in the process of global, state-mediated capitalist accumulation in South Asia.

Long abstract:

The study of inequality - often eclipsed by the focus on "poverty" - today seems prominently back on the agenda of social science enquiry. And yet such enquiry, and political debate, risks getting caught in the antinomies of what category or combination thereof - class, caste, gender, ethnicity, region - is to be privileged in the analysis, leaving the question of what relational processes actually produce these categories untouched. This panel therefore calls for papers that engage with inequality dialectically, drawing attention to how both these categories' fixity and unstableness are (re)produced in the process of global, state-mediated capitalist accumulation in South Asia. "Adivasis", for instance, are still often considered groups operating on the margins of the "modernizing" state, with livelihoods only indirectly linked to capitalist accumulation. And yet, adivasi livelihoods are in many areas becoming directly affected by the market: many adivasis have become "footloose laborers" while others are turned into a pauperized "surplus" population. Meanwhile, many of the groups studied - and attempted to be mobilized - under the rubric of the "proletariat" are turning into a precariat, while those considered "peasants" increasingly depend on non-agricultural income. Likewise, for many Dalits dispossession is a more pressing problem than Untouchability. Drawing on detailed case-studies, this panel will interrogate how the typologies that have historically emerged to capture the inequality of subaltern populations relate to today's lived realities - of livelihood as well as mobilization - thereby in turn providing us a window onto the nature of capitalist development in South Asia today.