Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Intimate Contentions: Class, Community and Nationhood in Chhattisgarh in Central India (1947-2005)

In a heterogeneous country like India, trade union movements crack due to the conflicting community ties of workers. Nevertheless, India has an eighty-four year long trade union history. How do Indian trade unions crisscross the ties of religion, caste, kinship, and ethnicity? How do they make and legitimize alliances? My empirical study of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Chhattisgarh Liberation Front), a contemporary trade union in Chhattisgarh region in central India, will address these questions. Using archival and ethnographic sources, my study will grasp the trade union alliances historically, throwing light on the nation-state mediated industrialization process that makes use of pre-existing community divisions. The time frame I have chosen is postcolonial (1950-2005), implying independence from colonial rule, formation of new nation states, and forms of economic development dominated by the growth of indigenous capital. The postcolonial Indian state was faced with the dilemma of creating an economy that was productive as well as employment generative. It entered into varying relations with indigenous capitalists and workers who were also the citizens of the newly constituted nation. What variables mediated the relationships between nation-state, capital, and class? How did they change after the introduction of global capital in 1991? What forms did working class resistance take and how did they change with, the changing nature of capital? How did the Indian worker negotiate between the roles of a "comrade" and a community member? My comparative and historical enquiry, ranging from the late colonial period to that of economic liberalization, hopes to answer these questions. My main intent is to question the view of cultural identities as autonomous, and separate from class. I will show how they both are a function of capital, and hence a necessary component in workers' resistances.