Ashwin Subramanian

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. 10734

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Subramanian, Ashwin (Harvard U.) "Ripple Effects: Agrarian Change, Caste and Kinship in Central India"

Through a 12-month long ethnographic study in Hoshangabad—a predominantly agricultural province in central India—my project examines the implications of two microprocesses that bear on contemporary peasant social reproduction in rural India: 1) increasing land fragmentation and loss of socioeconomic status, which is in turn leading to 2) difficulties for families to secure caste-endogamous marriage alliances. As interrelated phenomena, they threaten not only the prospects of profitable agricultural production in diminishing tracts of land; but also the very stability of family units, and caste-structure by jeopardizing endogamy. As such, my project asks, how do actors navigate these contradictions? What are the strategies employed by households to ensure profits from land—or do they opt to move out of agriculture? And what if this is not possible? Finally, how is caste reproduced when endogamy is not assured for everyone in the group? By examining these questions, I analyze the contingent articulation, and implications of the seemingly disparate domains of political economy, caste and kinship on agrarian social life.