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From Peasant Soldiering to Peasant Activism: Reflections on the Transition of a Martial Tradition in the Flaming Fields of Bihar

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In his ethnohistory of the military labour market in eastern Hindustan, 1450-1850, Dirk Kolff is concerned as much with the qualities of the supply side of the market, that is the villages of the rural countryside, as by the demand side of what the state might need or when it might need it. He describes the towns and villages of the region as an armed society in the Mughal and early modern centuries, and implies that this martial ethos extends into the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. My suggestion is that the social, cultural, and political history of the twentieth century affirms this to be the case, generally in Gangetic north India, and speci fically so in Bhojpur and Bihar, the heart of Kolff's Hindustan. Dans son étude ethno-historique du marché du travail militaire en Hindoustan oriental entre 1450 et 1850, Dirk Kolff se concentre autant sur l'offre provenant des villages ruraux que sur la demande représentée par les besoins de l'Etat. Il décrit les villes et villages de la région pendant la période moghole et pre-modern comme une société guerrière, et sous-entend que leur idéologie militaire perdure aux XIXe et XXe siècles. L'histoire socio-culturelle et politique du vingtième siècle semble con firmer cette théorie dans la région nord de l'Inde, et plus précisément dans le Bhojpur et le Bihar, le centre de l'Hindoustan chez Kolff.


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