, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 721-722
Date: 21 Jan 2011

Anand Pandian: Crooked Stalks Cultivating Virtue in South India

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Anand Pandian eloquently explores the enduring question “how do people come to live as they ought to live?” through ethnographic research with the Piramalai Kallars in rural South India. Designated in 1918 as a “criminal tribe” by the British, the Piramalai Kallars became cultivators as part of a British social experiment to develop moral citizens, one scheme among many that demonstrates British and later Western attempts to “improve” India, morally and materially. As Pandian argues, this colonial legacy continues to shape perceptions about this community as well as their self-perceptions, demonstrating the “postcolonial afterlife of the colonial enterprise.” Against the backdrop of this colonial legacy as well as contemporary agrarian failures, Pandian demonstrates how multiple, and sometimes conflicting, vectors fashion idioms through which the Piramalai Kallars understand their moral lives and development. In addition to his ethnographic work, Pandian draws extensively upon archival