Governing morals : state, marriage and household amongst the Gaddis of North India
This thesis is an anthropological study of legal governance and its impact on kinship relations amongst a migratory pastoralist community in north India. The research is based on fieldwork and archival sources and is concerned with understanding the contest between 'customary' and legal norms in the constitution of public moralities amongst the Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh. The research examines on changing conjugal practices amongst the Gaddis in the context of wider changes in their political economy and in relation to the colonial codification of customary law in colonial Punjab and the Hindu Marriage Succession Acts of 1955-56. The thesis investigates changes in the patterns of inheritance in the context of increased sedentarisation, combined with state legislation and intervention. It examines the move from polygamous to monogamous marriage, and changes in everyday sexual moralities and notions of legitimacy. Analysing marriage and succession related litigation undertaken by Gaddis over the last hundred years, the thesis maps the discursive constitution of the 'customary' and its negotiation in the juridical sphere. The ethnography of local level bureaucracy and its regime of certification demonstrates that dominant legal ideals of conjugal and property relations are effected not merely by legislation, but also through certain state enumerative and documentary practices, such as registration and certification. The research explores how knowledge of 'native' rules and behaviour necessitated the use of anthropological expertise, the culmination of which was the recording of every single tribe's 'customary law' in the region. It investigates the conditions under which the colonial state solicited anthropological expertise, and how the discipline extended its expertise into the realm of state. The colonial state's entanglement in knowledge and human interests is compared with the contemporary state's reformist legal discourse of rights and equality to chart the trajectory of the changing object of governance from subject to citizen.