Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationMcGill U.
Grant numberGr. 9270
Approve DateApril 11, 2016
Project TitleRathee, Vineet, McGill U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'Caste Panchayats of India: A Contemporary Study of Caste, Gender and the State in Rural India,' supervised by Dr. Katherine Lemons
VINEET RATHEE, then a graduate student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, was awarded a grant in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Caste Panchayats of India: A Contemporary Study of Caste, Gender and the State in Rural India,’ supervised by Dr. Katherine Lemons. This project examines the changing contours of rural life in villages of Haryana, India, whose inhabitants, belonging to different castes, have been historically dependent on agriculture, its produce and the labor opportunities it provides. Based on nineteen months of fieldwork, it studies the volatile nature of caste politics, post-Green Revolution practices of cultivation and the concomitant techno-infrastructural changes in agriculture and its labor, and the impact of such material changes on relations of caste, gender and kinship. While analyzing a series of both violent and non-violent agitations by the Jats, a cultivating-cum-landowning caste, in 2016-17, the research studies various dimensions of caste power and dominance in Haryana. Further, by tracing the participation of both Jat and non-Jat caste panchayats in the agitations, it reveals how customary caste panchayats have adapted to the ways of postcolonial democratic politics. The project also examines how kisans (cultivators) of post-Green Revolution Haryana have adopted a new techno-infrastructural regime of cultivation while adjusting to conditions of rampant land fragmentation, agrarian debt, changing labor relations and an expanding informal economy. Lastly, it studies how customary ideas and practices of descent and marriage, which constitute the varying degrees of patrilocal family units like ghar and kunba in a village, are being challenged by the onset of a gradual and diffused form of change I call embourgeoisement.