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The Underbelly of the Indian Boom: Adivasis and Dalits

Objective

In recent decades India has experienced exceptionally high economic growth rates, becoming one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. Yet, the redistribution of the fruits of economic growth – the trickle down effects of growth – have been negligible for vast swathes of India’s population, most of who live in the countryside. The demographics of the poor are starkly socially marked. Economists tell us that India’s dalit and adivasi communities, who account for almost 25% of the country’s population and were historically seen as ‘untouchable’ and ‘savage’, suffer from disproportionate levels of poverty, remaining worse off than other groups almost everywhere across the country. But econometric analysis is unable to tell us how and why this is the case. This project uses an innovative anthropological approach to understand the processes by which poverty is reproduced through agrarian relations and the shift from farm-based social and economic hierarchies towards new forms of power and exploitation off the farm which lead to the persistence of dalit and adivasi marginalisation across India. Informed by recent statistical research and policy shifts at the national and state levels, this project will craft a more critical and powerful alternative to poverty measurements by ethnographically exploring the relationship between political and economic transformations in rural-based dalit and adivasi lives, and the transformations taking place at the macro level. It thus establishes a new methodological field which structures ethnography in the framework of political economic theory and brings this combination to the centre of understandings of poverty. It will provide the first historically situated ethnographic studies which are comparative, not only in their regional distribution, but also in their underlying theoretical and methodological bases.

Field of science

  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture/horticulture/fruit

Call for proposal

ERC-2012-StG_20111124
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
Address
Houghton Street 1
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 322 920,80
Principal investigator
Alpa Shah (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
David Coombe (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (3)

LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 322 920,80
Address
Houghton Street 1
WC2A 2AE London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Alpa Shah (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
David Coombe (Mr.)
SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES ROYAL CHARTER
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 88 539,60
Address
Thornhaugh Street Russel Square
WC1H OXG London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Tony Doherty (Mr.)
THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 88 539,60
Address
Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Linda Pialek (Mrs.)