Productive power in agriculture: a survey of work on the local history of British India.

D. Ludden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Historical work seems to support two propositions: most agricultural investment occurred as transactions within local circuits of power that existed before British rule; and trends in agricultural development from 1750 to 1950 inevitably effected local power relations built upon the control of productive resources. The availability of open land is not itself sufficient to create social mobility. If the land is jungle, as was most of eastern India, it takes lots of labour to clear, plant, and protect from animals. If it is dry scrubland, the same job can be done with very small groups, who nonetheless need to protect themselves, as well as to weather frequent droughts. Irrigated land requires large initial and steady subsequent doses of organized labour for construction and maintenance, as well as an institutional mechanism to distribute water and to settle disputes. The specific technical requirements of any cultivation regime, therefore, combine with the natural tendency for farming populations to expand proximally to make it likely that one type of organizational structure will be reproduced throughout a particular type of terrain unless prevented from doing so. Pre-existing types of agricultural organization are more likely to be recreated than are radically new ones to arise, given no change in technology.-from Author

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)51-99
    Number of pages49
    JournalUnknown Journal
    StatePublished - 1985

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Environmental Science
    • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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