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The Land Question in IndiaState, Dispossession, and Capitalist Transition$
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Anthony P. D'Costa and Achin Chakraborty

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198792444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198792444.001.0001

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Land and the Political Management of Primitive Accumulation

(p.1) Prelude
The Land Question in India

Partha Chatterjee

Oxford University Press

This prelude links democracy, populism, and primitive accumulation to the land question in India. Chatterjee argues that contemporary dispossession of peasants from their land in postcolonial societies is different from the historical experiences of the early industrializers. The surplus labor, which primitive accumulation produced through dispossession was earlier politically managed by the state by venting to labor scarce, land abundant regions such as North America and Australia. Late industrializers such as India do not have this option and are instead saddled with a vast informal economy and the dispossessed lie outside the orbit of the capitalist growth economy. Here the Indian state politically manages this surplus labor by providing benefits through populist policies while at the same time facilitating dispossession, a development that not has a high political cost but the effects of primitive accumulation are reversed.

Keywords:   democracy, populism, peasants, dispossession, the state, primitive accumulation

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