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Title: The political economy of conflict between indigenous communities and dominant societies : adivasis, Maoist insurgents and the state in the central Indian tribal belt
Author: Kennedy, Jonathan
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis aims to understand the political sociology of Maoist insurgency in India using a combination of disaggregated statistics and qualitative data. The vast majority of insurgent leaders are from dominant or upper caste, middle class backgrounds. Their participation in the insurgency can be understood in terms of ideology and short-term processes of mobilization. The Maoist insurgents provide a unified organizational structure for two separate sections of society. On the one hand, are untouchable or dalit landless laborers who suffer economic exploitation at the hands of higher caste landowners. On the hand are tribal or adivasi landowning cultivators whose relative autonomy has come under increasing pressure over the past two centuries as the state has established control over natural resources in their area. Their support for the insurgents does not just manifest itself from exploited untouchables’ and oppressed tribals’ positions in the social structure as structural theories would assume. Rather, the insurgents provide them with collective incentives in order to encourage their support. The actors at the macro and micro levels have very different reasons for participating in the insurgency. The insurgent leaders aim to capture state power through a Protracted People’s War, while the objectives of supporters at the micro-level tend to be more concerned with local and short-term issues. The insurgency should be conceptualised as a state building enterprise in which the interests of supporters at all levels are served by seizing local political power and the building of a base area. The thesis demonstrates that the insurgency is expanding most rapidly in the central Indian tribal belt. I use a case study to show that not all tribal communities support the insurgents. Some oppose them, either because their interests have been harmed by the presence of the insurgents, or as a result of a variety of endogenous mechanisms. This indicates that insurgency is a more dynamic and complex process than structural and rational actor theories allow for. The thesis finishes by placing the subject of indigenous communities and insurgency in the global context. It demonstrates that, while so-called indigenous communities listed by the Minorities at Risk project amount to 4.8% of the world’s population, they were involved in 43% of the intra-state conflict years listed by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program Armed Conflict Dataset between 1946 and 2010.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Indigenous people ; Civil war ; Insurgency ; Counterinsurgency ; Maoists ; Naxals ; India ; Adivasis ; Dalits ; Tribal belt ; Chhattisgarh ; Dantewara ; Dantewada