Colonial Hegemony and Popular Resistance

Colonial Hegemony and Popular Resistance

Product ID: 7852

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Author: Hira Singh
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 1998
Language: English
Pages: 274
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170366844


The historiography of colonialism in India has, by and large, ignored princely India which covered two-fifths of the country's territory and a quarter of its population. This work corrects this imbalance by providing a trend-setting study which explores the distinct socio-economic formations of the princely states during colonial rule.

Instead, the inferences drawn from British India are generally applied to the whole country. Terming this tendency as a colonial mode of historiography, Dr Hiro Singh corrects this imbalance by providing a trend-setting study which explores the distinct socio-economic formations of the princely states during colonial rule.

The central argument of the book is that colonial penetration failed to dissolve the pre-capitalist socio-economic order. For from being passive objects, the pre-colonial structures and subjects resisted colonial-capitalist penetration and forced its agents to compromise. The result was that the colonial power and the princely states survived by bolstering and legitimizing each other. Hira Singh Supports this thesis with extensive archival material and information collected through fieldwork in three of the princely states. In this process, he also convincingly refutes the contention that feudalism had never existed in India.

Finally, the peasant movements from the 1920s onwards are discussed. The author contents that it was these agitations which played the critical role of dissolving the feudal order and, by extension, its ally, the colonial state since the collapse of tone led inevitably to the collapse of the other. He also critiques the tendency of historians to fit the peasant movements into predetermined models and paradigms while failing to see their real nature and role.

A forceful and closely argued historical exposition which challenges many established theories, the book is bound to generate spirited debate for many years to come. It will be essential reading for scholars in the fields of history, sociology, agrarian history, politics and development studies.


The book makes a strong and convincing case for an agrarian history of India that will give is due place to princely India, and not just British India…Its observations are bound to be controversial, but they cannot be ignored by those who take a serious interests in the study of Indian society and history.

-Andre Beteille-From the Foreword


Foreword by Andre Beteille





Social Change in Colonial Societies:
Abstract Paradigms and Concrete Histories

Thinkanedars: The Landlords

Kisans: The Peasants

Peasant Movements: Action from Below

Landlords’ Response: Reaction from Above

Paramount Power, Princes, and Peasants: The Dialectics of Colonialism

Agency of Peasant Movements: The Reality and the Discourse



References and Select Bibliography

About the Author