Politics From Below

Essays on Subalternity and Resistance in India

Alf Gunvald Nilsen


Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2017

228 pages

Price INR 350
Book Club Price INR 263

How is subalternity constituted and contested in Indian society? This is the question at the centre of this collection of essays, which draws on Antonio Gramsci's work to investigate the dynamics of hegemony, subalternity and resistance in India, both past and present. Engaging in a critical dialogue with the Subaltern Studies project, the first part of Politics From Below develops a historical-sociological approach to the study of hegemonic processes and subaltern politics. At the heart of this perspective is a concern with deciphering the enablements and constraints that subaltern groups confront as they mobilize in and through the social condensations of hegemony – and in particular in and through regnant state-society relations. In the second part of the book, this perspective is put to work in developing analyses of social movements in rural India. Drawing on the author's extensive fieldwork, Politics From Below presents detailed ethnographic studies of the movement against dam building in the Narmada Valley and Adivasi mobilization to democratize the local state in western India. The book will be relevant to students and scholars with an interest in social movements and the political economy of development and democracy in India, as well as to activists and engaged members of the public more generally.

Alf Gunvald Nilsen

Alf Gunvald Nilsen is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Bergen. His research focuses on social movements in the global South. He is the author of Dispossession and Resistance in India (2012) and co-editor of Social Movements in the Global South (2011) and Marxism and Social Movements (2013).