What is the role of human subjectivity and agency in the process of social transformation within given social structures? This study attempts to answer this complex question with an analysis covering close to two hundred of evolving adivasis/tribal experience and identity in Thane district, Maharashtra: from1818 with the entry of the British, 1944 to 1948 which was the highpoint of the adivasis revolt under the Kisan Sabha and the post independence period up to the present. The integrative processes of individuals and groups coming together in a collective organization in the defense of common interests which are perceived as threatened by the ‘other’ and the complex relation between mass-level consciousness and a coherent ideology held primarily by a leadership are factors considered as conducive to the development of an identity and political consciousness. An important focus has been the relation between the primordial adivasis and class identity.
The introductory theoretical section attempts to draw out epistemological and methodological implications for a study of class consciousness from theoretical positions that define the relationship between individual and collective consciousness, ideology and science in their expression and representation of/reflection on social reality. The three sections of a theory of consciousness in processes of change within politico economic structures and the hegemony of the state, social history and an empirical sociological study of adivasi political consciousness; articulated together result in an account of veritable epic proportions in the social sciences. While both historical analysis and empirical study generate material pertinent to the problem under study, the effort is to serve as an illustration of the application of a conceptual framework and a methodology for the study of the political consciousness and struggles of the subaltern.
The book should be useful for academics, practitioners and policy makers; for the disciplines of sociology, social psychology, political science and for students of the history of the political economy of social transformation as attempted to be seen from below.
Denzil Saldanha was formerly Professor, Sociology of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His research interests have been in the areas of social movements; voluntary social action groups and development organizations; and elementary, non-formal and adult education. He has been teaching, researching and contributing to policy in these areas for about three decades. He has served as a member of state and national level committees, on the board of several academic and developmental institutions and organizations and as a consultant to government, funding agencies and international organizations. His publications cover the interest areas mentioned above, some recent books being Education of Adolescents for Development in India: The Case of Doosra Dashak, 2007 and Civil Society Processes and the State: The BGVS and the Literacy Campaigns, 2010. A running concern in his writings has been an attempt to understand the role of human subjectivity in processes of social transformation.