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Workers and Working Classes in Contemporary India: A Note on Analytic Frames and Political Formations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the ontology of work in contemporary India requires a move well beyond the apparatus both of 'classical Marxism' and of canonical subaltern-studies. It draws on new workers' movements in India to show the limits of both of these approaches, and identifies some points in the current intersections between Marxian analysis, post-colonial/subaltern theory and the emergent social categories to argue for a more expansive and fluid framework for analysing the politics of new workers in India. The chapter sketches out the issues in contention between orthodox class-analytic Marxism and canonical subaltern-studies, and identifies some salient limits they have in describing the politics of their chief protagonists, workers and subalterns respectively. It reviews the forest-workers' movement and the context of migrant-work to highlight how some of the limitations identified in these two frameworks operate in these cases.

Keywords: contemporary India; forest-workers' movement; orthodox class-analytic Marxism; post-colonial theory



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