Varied Dimensions
THE COMING OF THE DEVI: ADIVASI ASSERTION IN WESTERN INDIA by David Hardiman Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1988, 248 pp., 140
March-April 1988, volume 12, No 2

The Coming of the Devi is a minutely researched and sensitively written history of the transformation of an obscure smallpox propitiation ceremony into a movement for social reform and tribal self assertion. Hardiman’s empirical investigations into the origins, spread and growth of the Devi movement among the tribals and peasants of South Gujarat also addresses more general issues such as the nature of peasant consciousness and the understanding of those movements for social and political change which remained independent of elite control and initiatives. In the process of studying the Devi movement in South Gujarat, Hardiman faced the initial challenge of a lack of historical material outside the limited quantities available in Government archives. To supplement this, he travelled extensively in the region interviewing large numbers of those who had participated in the movement or had otherwise vivid memories of it. The finished product is enlightening, containing rich and complex fare, and offering as an incentive a fuller history of the movement and the people who participated in it, than an exclusive dependence on Government records and newspaper clippings would have provided.

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