Law and Order in North India: Perspectives on Village and Jungle

Julia Wardhaugh, University of Wales

ABSTRACT
This presentation explores the concept of the jungle as a metaphor for deviance and disorder. In India the jungle as a physical space is seen as the natural habitat of many deviant and marginal groups. In a metaphorical sense, it is also a space that is deeply feared within Indian culture. Indian and British colonial concepts of the jungle are explored in the first part of the poster.

The second section considers views on village India, ranging from colonial discourse to the rural idyll of the anti-colonial nationalist. Discourses contrasting village and jungle as opposing spaces are also considered. A central theme is implicit here: that the maintenance of social order in rural India is dependent on 'keeping the jungle out'.

Finally, a case-study based on the author's own fieldwork in one village in western Uttar Pradesh is presented. Taking the idea of the Indian village as a self-regulatory entity as a starting-point, two scenarios are considered. Systems of regulation within Nagaria are considered from the perspectives of consensus and conflict. The conclusion is an open one, allowing for the possibility that both readings may have a valid application to the understanding of law and order in contemporary village India.

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Updated 05/20/2006