Settling the frontier : land, law and society in the Peshawar Valley, 1500-1900 / Robert Nichols.
xviii, 355 p. : ill. ; 29 cm.
- Local subjects:
- Penn dissertations -- History.
History -- Penn dissertations.
- Over several centuries (c. 1500-1900) residents of the agrarian valleys west of the Indus river in the Peshawar region (in today's Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan) experienced imperial expansion, technological innovation, and the growth of state institutions as they simultaneously nurtured and transformed indigenous power relations, socio-cultural practices, and a political economy never completely distanced from an earlier pastoral-nomadic heritage. Tracing local agency and adaptation, this study recovers a regional history long subsumed in imperial and post-colonial national narratives. It argues against reductive notions of a unified "tribal" society in simple, perpetual opposition to monolithic imperial-state structures. A creative methodology has supplemented conventional sources with the use and analysis of social science scholarship, ethnographic material, religious and lineage texts, oral histories, and collections of popular verse.
Through the period under study a focus has been maintained on Peshawar "settled" district relations to the land and upon often contending visions of social order, justice, and moral authority. Personal, family, and clan identities and fortunes were closely tied to control of village fields and crop production. Islamic, imperial, and lineage claims to legitimacy were directly tied to assertions of particular norms of behavior and the right to interpret and administer justice. Though imperial hierarchies and ruling institutions attempted to further structure and subordinate local society, a process accelerating in the late 19th century, colonial documents reveal the extent to which such efforts revealed a "Limited Raj" in which political and economic domination did not fully translate into socio-cultural influence or legitimacy. Related processes of transformation and exploitation have been examined in historical context.
Local collaboration and resistance as well as imperial reticence and initiative marked different moments in continuing processes of interaction. Periods of religiously charged political activism are analyzed as occurring within a larger socio-economic context dominated by the influence of local elite intermediaries and imperial resources and strategies. A contingent, fragmented history reflected neither the dichotomies of problematic "subaltern" scholarship nor the effects of socio-cultural and religious expression delinked from the dynamics of the regional political economy.
- Supervisor: David Ludden.
Thesis (Ph.D. in History) -- University of Pennsylvania, 1997.
Includes bibliographical references.
- Local notes:
- University Microfilms order no.:98-00906.
- Ludden, David, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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