Studies on state-formation in India rarely focus on the agency of subordinate groups. Questioning the dominant narratives on state-subordinate interactions, Sahai provides a unique account of state-formation in early modern Rajasthan. She also engages with larger debates on state-formation and popular protest in early modern India by demonstrating the role of a subaltern group.
Politics of Patronage and Protest explores the process of state-formation from below through the prism of artisanal experience. Focusing on the multimensional interface of the Jodhpur state with resident artisans, the author highlights the political culuture of the period. She argues that the state power and authority was mediated by the moral calculus of wajabi a continually evolving conception of custom and propriety. She shows how the artisans negotiated with and resisted when wajabi levels, both of patronage and of exploitation were transgressed.
Nandita Prasad Sahai beautifully dissects the multiple levels of social contestation in a dynamic, contentions society, in the process giving various insights into the social and political world of the artisan. Based on hitherto unexplored, unusually rich arzees or petitions against the state and its functionaries this book is fascinating in its detail. It also discusses documents related to inter-caste and intra-caste legal disputes, folklore and collective memory.
Students and scholars of medieval and early modern India particularly those interested in state formation, subaltern agency and Rajasthan will find this book useful.
About the Author
Nandita Prasad Sahai is Reader, Department of History, Hindu College, University of Delhi.
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