Book Launch and Discussion on: Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India by Mukulika Banerjee

Date and Time

March 9, 2022

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Seminar Room I to III, First Floor, Kamala Devi Complex, India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, The event will also be live-streamed on the CPR Facebook page.

Mukulika Banerjee

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Rajdeep Sardesai

Consulting Editor, India Today Group

Yamini Aiyar

President and Chief Executive, CPR

Hilal Ahmed

Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)

Mekhala Krishnamurthy

Senior Fellow, CPR

The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) invites you to a Book Launch and Discussion on: Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India by Mukulika Banerjee

Mukulika Banerjee, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor, India Today Group will be in conversation moderated by Yamini Aiyar,  President and Chief Executive, CPR.

The discussion will be followed by expert comments by:
Hilal Ahmed, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
Mekhala Krishnamurthy, Senior Fellow, CPR

To RSVP, please send an email to Seating is limited to ensure social distancing.

The event will also be live-streamed on the CPR Facebook page. You can access it by clicking on the link above. 

About the book

An ethnographic study of Indian democracy that shows how agrarian life creates values of citizenship and active engagement that are essential for the cultivation of democracy.

Cultivating Democracy provides a compelling ethnographic analysis of the relationship between formal political institutions and everyday citizenship in rural India. Banerjee draws on deep engagement with the people and social life in two West Bengal villages from 1998-2013, during election campaigns and in the times between, to show how the micro-politics of their day-to-day life builds active engagement with the macro-politics of state and nation. Her sensitive analysis focuses on several “events” in the life of the villages shows how India’s agrarian rural society helps create practices and conceptual space for these citizens to be effective participants in India’s great democratic exercises. Specifically, she shows how the villagers’ creative practices around their kinship, farming and religion, while navigating encounters with local communist cadres, constitute a vital and continuing cultivation of those republican virtues of cooperation, civility, solidarity and vigilance which the visionary Ambedkar considered essential for the success of Indian democracy. At a time when so much of that constitutional vision is under threat, this book provides a crucial scholarly rebuttal to all, on Right or Left, who dismiss rural citizens’ political capacities and democratic values. This book will appeal to anyone interested in India’s political culture and future, its rural society, or the continuing relevance of political anthropology.

About the AuthorDr Mukulika Banerjee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her published work include, Why India Votes? (Routledge 2014), The Sari (Berg, 2003), The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the Northwest Frontier (James Currey, 2001). Mukulika prepared a BBC Radio 4 documentary on ‘Sacred Elections’ for the Indian national elections in 2009; Her applied knowledge of anthropological methods to political behavior led her to be the founding Series Editor of the hugely successful ‘Exploring the Political  in South Asia’ (Routledge) which is a platform for scholars to publish political-ethnographic studies on India. A complete list of titles published so far is available here.

Interweaving the political into social anthropology to understand human behaviour has been a core component of Mukulika’s long-standing academic engagement with South Asia. Her doctoral research, conducted in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (North West Frontier Province), studied the non-violent Pakhtun movement in the 1930s-40s, and the articulation of identity politics alongside assertive political practices against imperial rule.

She has lectured extensively on her work at various platforms in Berne, Bonn, Chicago, Columbia, Delhi, Duke, Edinburgh, Gottingen, Heidelberg,  Illinois, Indiana, Kalyani, Kolkata, London, Madison, Melbourne, New York, North Carolina, Oslo, Oxford, Pavia, Paris, Philadelphia, Princeton, Sussex, and Yale.