An ethnographic study of Indian democracy that shows how agrarian life creates values of citizenship and active engagement that are essential for the cultivation of democracy.
Cultivating Democracy provides a compelling ethnographic analysis of the relationship between formal political institutions and everyday citizenship in rural India. Banerjee draws on deep engagement with the people and social life in two West Bengal villages from 1998-2013, during election campaigns and in the times between, to show how the micro-politics of their day-to-day life builds active engagement with the macro-politics of state and nation. Her sensitive analysis focuses on
several "events" in the life of the villages shows how India's agrarian rural society helps create practices and conceptual space for these citizens to be effective participants in India's great democratic exercises. Specifically, she shows how the villagers' creative practices around their kinship, farming and
religion, while navigating encounters with local communist cadres, constitute a vital and continuing cultivation of those republican virtues of cooperation, civility, solidarity and vigilance which the visionary Ambedkar considered essential for the success of Indian democracy. At a time when so much of that constitutional vision is under threat, this book provides a crucial scholarly rebuttal to all, on Right or Left, who dismiss rural citizens' political capacities and democratic values. This
book will appeal to anyone interested in India's political culture and future, its rural society, or the continuing relevance of political anthropology.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 376 g
Dimensions: 235 x 157 x 19 mm
This is a work of both theoretical sophistication and vivid ethnography that takes us into the everyday life of rural Bengal as we follow the rhythms and tempos of political allegiances, enmities, compromises, and hopes that portray the lived experience of democratic politics. With an eye on minor characters as well as major players in the political field Banerjee's receptivity to unforeseen events within the everyday, and her attention to the small events of
history, together stitch theory and ethnography and make for unforgettable moments in the text. The author's commitment to the project of a democratic India, even and especially in these dark times, is evident in every scene, hopeful or not, that animate the book. * Veena Das, Johns Hopkins University *