Feeding the Baniya: Peasants and Usurers in Western India

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Oxford University Press, 1996 - History - 368 pages
In this detailed and comprehensive study of the relationship between peasants and Baniya usurers in western India, David Hardiman examines how and why usurers have, over the centuries, managed to exert their power over the peasantry. An explanation purely in terms of the economics of the relationship is, he argues, not adequate. Crucial also has been the support extended to the Baniyas by successive states from pre-colonial to colonial times. But over and above this is the ideological or hegemonic power that Baniyas have been able to exert over their clients. Applying insights derived from the works of Gramsci, Foucault and Bourdieu, Hardiman explores the nature of this hegemony, seeing how a shared set of beliefs could help the Baniyas consolidate their power. Despite this, the relationship was by no means a harmonious one. There was a whole range of tensions which at times gave rise to protest and resistance. The history of peasant resistance to Baniya usury is examined here in depth. This book, by a leading 'Subaltern' historian, provides important insights into the social, economic and cultural history of the subaltern classes of rural India. It will interest historians, sociologists, anthropologists and political economists, as well as activists working in rural areas.

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Chapter Two Usury Under the Old Regimes
Chapter Three Usury and the Colonial State
Chapter Four The Baniyas Life and Faith

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About the author (1996)

David Hardiman, Part-time lecturer, University of Warwick.

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