Addressing an important gap in the historiography of modern Assam, this book traces the relatively unexplored but profound transformations in the agrarian landscape of late- and post-colonial Assam that were instrumental in the making of modern Assamese peasantry and rural politics. It discusses the changing relations between various sections of peasantry, state, landed gentry, and politics of different ideological hues — nationalist, communist and socialist — and shows how a primarily agrarian question concerning peasantry came to occupy the centre stage in the nationalist politics of the state. It will especially interest scholars of history, agrarian and peasant studies, sociology, and contemporary politics, as also those concerned with Northeast India.
‘An excellent monograph on the peasant politics in Assam pointing out the implications of historical experiences for present-day politics. Analytically insightful and archivally rich, this has brought out multiple nuances in the intersections between "elite" and "subaltern" domains, especially focusing on the historical possibilities and limitations of ‘radicalism’ in the peasant politics of the valley.’ — Gautam Bhadra, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
‘This meticulously researched book delves deep to explore its central question of how a century of subaltern agrarian protests comes to be framed primarily as a nationality quest. Saikia deploys his exemplary knowledge of historical sources, vernacular cultural production, and local groups to bring us a richly detailed volume invaluable for scholars studying Assam, North-East India, and other Asian borderlands.’ — Jayeeta Sharma, University of Toronto
‘Locating the resistance of Assam peasants at the crossroads of empire, nation and transgressive ecology of a river valley, Saikia presents a major synthesis in the post-subaltern era of South Asian studies.’ —Iftekhar Iqbal, University of Dhaka
Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. An Agrarian Setting: 1900–50 2. Rural Society, Rural Politics and Nationalist Peasants3. Tenants, Sharecroppers and Communists 4. Peasants, Nationalists and Political Possibilities (1920–48) 5. Rural World Upside Down: The Valley during 1948–52 6. Rural Mobilization, Social Dynamics and Rural Politics 7. Peasants, Law and Nationalist Identity: An Unfulfilled Dream. Conclusion. Notes. Bibliography