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Title: The politics of counterinsurgency and statemaking in modern India
Author: Kamra, Lipika
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 2611
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis undertakes a study of the modern state in India in the context of counterinsurgency. Through a combination of ethnographic and historical methods, it explores the processes and practices of state formation and legitimacy-building in an erstwhile Maoist guerrilla zone of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. The colonial and postcolonial histories of this forested region, known popularly as the Jungle Mahals, are punctuated by moments of violent conflict and regime-change. These moments of rupture have tended to periodically reorder the relationships between the modern state and its ordinary subjects. Accordingly, the thesis reconstructs a trajectory of state-society relations in the Jungle Mahals from the early colonial era, when East India Company officials created a modern state apparatus to deal with rural rebellions, to the present, when the Indian government has pursued a 'development' agenda to wean ordinary people away from Maoist rebels. I show that periods of insurgency and counterinsurgency ought to be recognised as critical junctures in the history of the modern state in frontier regions such as the Jungle Mahals. The modern state is made and remade in the course of counterinsurgency as both state and rural society are reordered in tandem from above and below. Hence, I make a case for studying the state, understood as both an idea and a set of material practices, from 'within', that is, as emerging through the mediation of actors who represent the state and ordinary villagers in my fieldsites. Furthermore, through an exploration of ordinary villagers' responses to counterinsurgency in the Jungle Mahals, this thesis argues that popular responses to counterinsurgency cannot be explained through the binaries of resistance and complicity. In other words, it is necessary to examine the complex textures of people's lives and subjectivities vis-à-vis the state during and after counterinsurgencies in order to appreciate how statemaking in such circumstances, far from being a top-down imposition on hapless subjects, emerges from below as well.
Supervisor: Gooptu, Nandini Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: India ; development ; the state ; Maoism ; state-society relations ; counterinsurgency