Title People’s Car
Subtitle Industrial India and the Riddles of Populism
Author Sarasij Majumder
ISBN 9780823282418
List price GBP 24.99
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 216
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Fordham University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“Amid a glut of work on the urban global South, it is refreshing to read a book that strives to think the contemporary dynamics of development and agrarian change ethnographically. The book convincingly argues that the romanticized portrayals of either the communitarian peasant (commonplace in activist portrayals) or the irrational peasant (commonplace in policy circles and certain quarters of disciplinary economics) miss the point. Land, Majumder argues, is a vessel of personhood and unrequited desires. Attentive to the conflicted sentiments and desires of its peasant informants, the book refreshingly refuses to toe a clear ideological line. This well-crafted, clearly written book poses important questions of broad relevance to contemporary India and beyond.”

Vinay Gidwani, University of Minnesota


People’s Car offers an extraordinarily valuable take on a major movement against the acquisition of land for development, in the case of a Tata Motors car factory. The factory becomes the alibi for nuanced interrogations, both material and theoretical, of resistance, anthropology, economics, political economies, rural-scapes and the very nature and idea of land.”

Geeta Patel, University of Virginia



India is witnessing a unique moment in populism, with sentiments divided between economic reforms that promise fast industrialization and protests that thwart such industrialization. This book offers an ethnographic study of divergent local responses to the proposed construction of a Tata Motors factory in eastern India that would have produced the Nano, the so-called people’s car. Initial excitement was followed by long protests among the villagers whose agricultural land was being acquired for the project. After these protests secured the relocation of the factory, further demonstrations followed, sometimes involving the same participants, seeking to bring the factory back.

People’s Car explores this ambivalence concerning industrialization, asking why long drawn resistances against corporate industrialization coexist with political rhetoric and slogans promoting fast-paced industrialization. Majumder argues that such contradictory rhetoric and promises target divided sentiments in rural India where land is incommensurable with money and a site specially marked by desire for middle caste small landowners aspiring to futures beyond agriculture.

Previous studies of industrialization have generally focused on either demands for development or populist critiques. Moving beyond romantic clichés about urban/rural divisions, People’s Car offers a single analytical and ethnographic framework demonstrating how pro- and anti-industrialization forces feed off each other.


List of Abbreviations

A Timeline of the Events in Singur 

Introduction. Life Beyond Land: Aspirations, Ambivalence, and the Double Life of Development

Chapter 1. “We Are Chasis, Not Chasas”: Emergence of Land-Based Subjectivities

Chapter 2. Land Is Like Gold: (In)commensurability and the Politics of Land

Chapter 3. Land Is Like a Mother: The Contradictions of Village-Level Protests

Chapter 4. “Peasants” Against Industrialization: Images of the Peasantry and Urban Activists’  Representations of the Rural

Conclusion: Value Versus Values?

Postscript: From a Defunct Factory to a “Crematorium”






About the Author:

Sarasij Majumder is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Kennesaw State University.

Target Audience:

This book is useful for people interested in anthropology, economics & political economy.


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