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Konduru: Structure and Integration in a South Indian Village

Paul G. Hiebert
Copyright Date: 1971
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 212
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This is a detailed anthropological description and analysis of life in Konduru, a village in the central part of southern India about one hundred miles south of Hyderabad. The study is based on field work done by Professor Hiebert over a period of several years when he lived in the village, spoke its language, Telugu, and became closely acquainted with the people and their culture. After sketching the geographic and historical setting of the village, Professor Hiebert describes and discusses the social structure, including the societal categories, the various castes, the social groups including family, patrilineage, associations, and communities, and hamlets, villages, and towns in the region. There are chapters on status and power, networks of interpersonal relationships, panchayats (the system of justice), and rituals. Finally, the author discusses changes which are taking place in the society and culture of Konduru and presents his conclusions. He points out that this study of Konduru illustrates the importance of the village within the social order but at the same time demonstrates that the village cannot be understood apart from the other social groups in which its members are involved and interrelated, and that these relationships are neither static nor simple. But, as he concludes, the village is, for the individual, the concrete expression of his society. The book is illustrated with photographs, maps, and drawings. E. Adamson Hoebel, Regents’ professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, writes a foreword._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6288-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    E. Adamson Hoebel

    Since Sir Henry Maine, a century ago, first wrote on the Indian village community, the veil of mystery surrounding the life and society of the man living in the Indian countryside has been gradually lifted. Much has been written of India by travelers, adventurers, novelists, seekers of mystic truth, missionaries, soldiers, administrators, and scholars. Romance and glamour, sensation and prejudice have colored popular writing about the great subcontinent. In spite of the early start by Maine, objective scholarship by Westerners to counterbalance the unreliable general literature that predominated in the English language has until recently been quite rare.

    During the...

    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-12)

    The rolling plains south and west of Hyderabad in the central part of southern India are broken here and there by occasional rock-capped hills. As one nears the Krishna River, a low range of forested hills called the Nallamalais rises above the plains and flanks the river on either side (see Figure 1). Along the northern edge of the river, wedged between the Krishna and its tributary, the Dindi, the hills form a series of stepped plateaus ascending in a southward direction until the range is broken by the deep gorge through which the Krishna cuts its passage to the...

    (pp. 13-30)

    A foreigner visiting Konduru for the first time is struck by the cultural variety among the people jostling each other in the narrow marketplace: ornamented gypsies, scantily clad tribesmen, veiled Muslim women, sari-draped Hindus, turbaned farmers, and young men in Western-style clothing mingle together creating a colorful array. These differences are more than surface phenomena: they reflect the deepseated social cleavages which underlie the apparent unity of the village and fragment it into numerous social groups. To live in the village each man must belong to one or more of these groups, for as farmer Kortayya said out of bitter...

    (pp. 31-53)

    Caste and varna have captured the imagination of observers because they portray, in a form unparalleled elsewhere, the application of certain structural principles carried to their logical limits. But while societal categories provide the mental frameworks for life, social groups translate it into action. In operation, castes are broken up into local groups which are the basis for social interaction on the level of the village. Caste groups are not the only ones of significance in the village; the range is wide and varied. The observations on social groups made here apply primarily to the sedentary communities of Konduru, which...

  8. Photographs
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 54-80)

    Behavior in Konduru is influenced by several factors: norms defined by social groups and communities, multiple relationships between participants, the control of various forms of power, and the psychological bent of the individual. While the first two factors set boundaries on what is acceptable behavior, the individual can maneuver considerably within these limits by using power. Naturally, some of his efforts will conflict with those of his fellowmen and result in competition or discord, while others will coincide with their efforts and lead to cooperation and alliances. Status and power are used by the villagers to pursue their goals. At...

    (pp. 81-100)

    Overlapping groups in Konduru bind men into a system with ties of multiple loyalties and dependency which bridge the social rifts of caste. Other powerful forces that reinforce these bonds are networks of enduring relationships between specific individuals or families, which provide each with certain rights and obligations in respect to the other. While the raison d’être may be based upon caste monopolies, the relationships themselves do not link caste groups but individual families. Such networks provide a man with channels for exercising power and generate participant audiences that are concerned with his affairs. Three types of networks, jajmani, begar,...

    (pp. 101-130)

    The people of Konduru differentiate sharply between their own government administered by the leaders of their castes and village and the external government enforced by the many officials who frequent the village. Officers from many state and national programs, such as revenue, police, education, forestry, agriculture, and community development, come and go; however, they are rarely part of the village and its networks. Through the centuries villagers have seen external governments rise, flourish, and fall. Rajas, maharajas, emperors, nizams, zamindars, jagidars, and village lords have set up kingdoms, great and small, only to have them replaced by others. In the...

    (pp. 131-158)

    The people of Konduru believe that the village is also inhabited by innumerable supernatural beings whose activities are intimately related to those of the men and beasts who live in the same village. Gods and demigods, spirits, ghosts, winds, powers, and such demonic beings as rākshasas, asuras, yakshas, and pisāchas are thought to inhabit almost every grove and field, well and house.

    No sharp line divides natural beings from supernatural ones. Villagers vividly describe their encounters with ogres who have bulging eyes and shaggy hair and live in the bottoms of wells, or with demons who leap upon a man...

    (pp. 159-166)

    One need only walk through the streets of Konduru to realize that change has been part of the village from its inception. Crumbling ruins and half-buried inscriptions which abound in and around Konduru testify to other times and scenes.

    Bohannon notes (1963:369–71) that changes take place at different levels of the culture. Some rearrange the parts of a cultural system without altering the system itself. Others modify the parts of the system or even the system itself.

    Historical fortunes, human aspirations, and external influences have generated tensions within the village in the past. Many of these have been resolved...

    (pp. 167-172)

    Is the village a useful unit of analysis? Some men such as Henry Maine, Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Nilakanta Sastri, and T. V. Mahalingam have viewed villages as the ultimate building blocks of Indian society and, hence, the most significant units of analysis. Others such as Dumont (1957) and Pocock (1960) have denied the importance of the village and stressed that of caste. In recent years a more balanced approach has been reached (Dube, Lewis, Bailey, Marriott, Mandlebaum, etc.) in which the importance of the village as a social entity is recognized with the realization that there are other groups...

    (pp. 175-180)
    (pp. 181-185)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 186-192)