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Politics, patronage, and debt bondage in the Pakistani Punjab.

Martin, Nicolas E (2009) Politics, patronage, and debt bondage in the Pakistani Punjab. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis examines landlord politics in the rural Pakistani Punjab and contributes to the literature on the state and criminalised politics in South Asia as well as to broader debates on factionalism and violence, class formation, proletarianization and bonded labour. The thesis also examines whether, and in what sense, Muslim saints play a role in legitimising and consolidating a highly personalised and hierarchical political order. The principal aim of the thesis is to document, and to account for, the entrenchment of violent factional politics in the Punjabi countryside and to consider how this may have forestalled the emergence of horizontal, class-based, political assertiveness. Members of the landed elite still wield considerable power over much of the rural population through tenancy relations, patronage and coercion. This enables them to obtain votes during elections and to command corvee labour, as well as to enforce debt-bondage. The thesis illustrates how this remains true despite the growing, although partial, proletarianization of former tenants and of members of menial and artisan occupational groups. One implication of this situation is that in addition to members of marginal landless groups voting for landlords during elections they also frequently fight on their behalf rather than against them. Competition for political office remains largely restricted to the landed elite and resembles a zero-sum game where winners appropriate the spoils of power for themselves and, to varying degrees, for their clients. The fact that winners take all, combined with the widespread availability of Kalashnikovs and other weapons, means that political competition is intense and involves high levels of violence. The thesis analyses how the regional political coalitions of landlord politicians are often structured on the basis of pragmatism, kinship, feuds and local rivalries, rather than on that of ideological commitment to political parties.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, South Asian Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Anthropology
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2348

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