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Politics Around Non-Political Symbols: Celebration of a Peasant Revolt in a West Bengal Town


Abhijit Guha


During 1998-99, there was an upsurge of interest and activism amongst leaders of political parties in West Bengal, celebrating the 200th anniversary of an adivasi revolt known popularly as the ‘Chuar Rebellion’, in Medinipur. The leaders of the Congress and CPI-(M) addressed large public meetings and seminars. Through it they associated themselves symbolically with the heroic struggles of the down-trodden and the toiling masses of the countryside who were exploited, oppressed and finally brutally exterminated by the colonial rulers. Taking cues from the works of symbolic anthropology, this paper makes an attempt to construct an ethnography of political symbolism by describing in detail the tour programs and speeches of the political leaders and the discourses and narratives generated by the print media and in academic literature on the peasant revolt.

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