A mode of production flux: the transformation and reproduction of rural class relations in lowland Nepal and North Bihar

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The Eastern Gangetic Plains of South Asia represents a peripheral region
far from the centers of global capitalist production, and this is all the more apparent in Mithilanchal, a cultural domain spanning the Nepal/Bihar border. The agrarian structure can be considered ‘semi-feudal’ in character, dominated by landlordism and usury, and backed up by political and ideological processes. Paradoxically, Mithilanchal is also deeply integrated into the global capitalist market and represents a surplus labor pool for the urban centers of Western India as well as the Persian Gulf in a classic articulation between pre-capitalist and capitalist modes of production. A review of the changes in the agrarian structure over recent decades in the context of globalisation, out-migration and climate stress, shows that while landlordism remains entrenched, the relationship between the marginal and tenant farmer majority and the landed classes has changed, with the breakdown of ideological ties and reduced dependence on single landlords. The paper thus ends on a positive note, as the contemporary juncture represents an opportune moment for new avenues of political mobilization among the peasantry.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129–161
JournalDialectical Anthropology
Issue number2
Early online date10 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Tarai-Madhesh , Semi-feudalism , Neoliberalism , Landlords , Livelihoods , Nepal , Bihar