The Punjab Peasant: past & present literature

The Trolley Times has been launched recently by a group of four youngsters at the Singhu border. The idea was conceived by Ajaypal Natt from Mansa, along with Surmeet Mavi, Gurdeep Singh and Narinder Bhinder. The YouTube interview provides an insight into how the idea was developed, its purpose of reaching out and communicating with people who do not have smart phones and are not connected to social media. Moreover, telecom signals around protest areas are typically suppressed to slow down exchanges and mainstream electronic/print media in India is better known as “godi media”, not just unsympathetic to the thousands currently protesting against the farmers laws brought in September but simply the government’s voice. The first issue of the Trolley Times “carried Bhagat Singh’s quote on struggle; photographs from the centre of the struggle; story of a woman farmer, Gurmail Kaur, who died during the protest; some works of art and the lead article gave the message of unity, struggle and victory. ” The Tribune

The list below provides some references for reading further about the Punjab peasant in a historical context, focusing on some of its radical moments. The region was one of the last to be annexed by the British in the subcontinent in 1849, and subsequently underwent phenomenal transformation with their development of the canal colonies from 1885 onward. Punjab was divided and sub-divided following the Partition of 1947 but agriculture has remained at the core of Punjabi culture and identity.

  1. Ali, Imran. The Punjab under imperialism, 1885-1947. Vol. 923. Princeton University Press, 2014.
  2. Barrier, Norman G. “The formulation and enactment of the Punjab alienation of land bill.” The Indian Economic & Social History Review 2, no. 2 (1965): 145-165.
  3. Bhardwaj, Ajay. Filmmaker and Artist –
  4. Chattha, Tohid Ahmad, Abdul Qadir Mushtaq, Sumera Safdar, and Khizar Jawad. “Historical Perspective of Kirti Kisan Party and its Politics in colonial Punjab.” Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan 55, no. 1 (2018).
  5. Chopra, Radhika. Militant and Migrant: The Politics and Social History of Punjab. Routledge, 2012.
  6. Darling, Malcolm Lyall. Punjab peasant in prosperity and debt. Humphrey Milford, London, 1925.
  7. Deol, Amrit. “Workers and Peasants Unite: The Formation of Kirti and the Kirti-Kisan Party and the Lasting Legacy of the Ghadar Movement.” Journal of Sikh and Punjab Studies, 26, no. 1&2: 250.
  8. Gajrani, S. “Role of Kirti Kisan Party in Agrarian Movement (1927-35).” Constitutional Schemes and Political Development in India: Towards Transfer of Power 2 (1994): 463.
  9. Gill, Sucha Singh. “The farmers’ movement and agrarian change in the green revolution belt of North‐West India.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 21, no. 3-4 (1994): 195-211.
  10. Highfield, Jonathan. “Finding the voice of the peasant: Agriculture, neocolonialism and Mulk Raj Anand’s Punjab Trilogy’.” Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities 1, no. 2 (2009): 115-133.
  11. Islam, M. Mufakharul. “The Punjab land alienation act and the professional moneylenders.” Modern Asian Studies 29, no. 2 (1995): 271-291.
  12. Jodhka, Surinder S. “Beyond ‘crises’: rethinking contemporary Punjab agriculture.” Economic and Political Weekly (2006): 1530-1537.
  13. Josh, Sohan Singh. Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna: Life of the Founder of the Ghadar Party. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House, 1970.
  14. Kalra, Virinder S., and Shalini Sharma, eds. State of Subversion: Radical Politics in Punjab in the 20th Century. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.
  15. Kalra, Virinder S., and Waqas M. Butt. “‘In one hand a pen in the other a gun’: Punjabi language radicalism in Punjab, Pakistan.” South Asian History and Culture 4, no. 4 (2013): 538-553.
  16. Kessinger, Tom G. Vilyatpur, 1848-1968: Social and Economic Change in a North Indian Village. Vol. 19. University of California Press, 1974.
  17. Mukherjee, Mridula. “Some Aspects of Agrarian Structure of Punjab 1925-47.” Economic and Political Weekly (1980): A46-A58.
  18. Mukherjee, Mridula. “Peasant Protest in Punjab: Forms of Struggle and Mobilization.” In Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 59, pp. 812-823. Indian History Congress, 1998.
  19. Mukherjee, Mridula. Colonizing agriculture: the myth of Punjab exceptionalism. Sage, 2005. 
  20. Raza, Ali. “Provincializing the International: Communist Print Worlds in Colonial India.” In History Workshop Journal, vol. 89, pp. 140-153. Oxford Academic, 2020.
  21. Sharma, Shalini. Radical Politics in Colonial Punjab: Governance and Sedition. Routledge, 2009.
  22. Singh, Nazer. “The Anti-British Movements from Gadar Lehar to Kirti Kisan Lehar.” PhD Diss., Punjabi University, Patiala, 2011.
  23. Talbot, Ian. “The Punjab Under Colonialism: Order and Transformation in British India.” Journal of Punjab Studies 14, no. 1 (2011): 4.
  24. Tandon, Prakash. Punjabi Saga:1857-2000. Rupa, 2000.

This is not an exhaustive list, so please do share any other references in the comments.


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