Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies

Politics as Negotiations: Eroding Caste Norms in Rural South India

A3 Law and Social Sciences Building, University Park
Thursday 12th October 2017 (16:00-17:30)
For more information, please contact Mandy Felton

The Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies is pleased to announce that Dr Diego Maiorano will present on 12 October on Politics as Negotiations: Eroding Caste Norms in Rural South India.


How do ordinary people engage with politics and with what consequences? This paper answers these questions on the basis of ethnographic work in rural Andhra Pradesh (South India). The literature theorised poor people's politics either as a set of coping strategies or as resistance to the elites' oppression. Building on recent scholarship that has tried to go beyond this dichotomy, we recognise a more active role to the poor in their everyday engagement with politics and we conceptualise poor people’s politics as a form of negotiation for better access to resources, power and status. These negotiations are structured around labour relations and caste norms, which are so inextricably intertwined that a modification of one set of 'rules' necessarily has an impact on the other.

The paper makes two arguments. First, the continuing (implicit and explicit) negotiating process between the elites and the poor labouring classes has the objective to maintain cordial and peaceful relations and hence the continuation of the negotiation itself. Second, this non-confrontational relation leads to positive social change that results in better living conditions for the poor and to some extent questions the unequal social order by eroding and modifying the social norms that underpin power relations.

Speaker biography

Dr Diego Maiorano is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies and the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham. His research focuses on India's politics and development and on political and economic change in developing countries, with special reference to the themes of poverty and inequality.

His current research focuses on India's largest anti-poverty programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The objective of the project is to look at whether and in what ways the programme is contributing to changing power relations in India’s countryside. His PhD thesis has been published as Autumn of the Matriarch - Indira Gandhi's Final Term in Office (Hurst/Oxford University Press/Harper Collins, 2015).

All are welcome.

Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies

School of Politics and International Relations
Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 82 83087