Everyday life in contemporary rural India is characterized by an increased sense of mobility, inequality and uncertainty. Ordinary villagers often find themselves caught between the promises and failures of democracy and development. This ethnographic study of the village of Khanpur (in Uttar Pradesh, north India) is an attempt to grasp everyday life in rural India. Drawing on descriptions of village life, interspersed with theoretical analyses, the author examines how ordinary people construct their own sense of their lives and their futures in everyday activities: working on farms, attending college, searching for non-farm employment, celebrating religious rituals and dealing with local elections and democracy. The villagers confront growing economic and moral uncertainty; they creatively harmonize public discourse and local practice; and sometimes they resolve incoherence and unease through the use of irony. In so doing, they perform everyday village and caste ethics and re-create transient political, economic and moral communities at a time of massive social dislocation. Satendra Kumar in this lucid book shows, in no uncertain terms, that villages in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere have been and continue to be vibrant grounds for the production of culture, sociality, hope, politics and persons. He also addresses anthropology’s forfeiture of the village as a subject of study in an era of globalization.

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