Contested claims: Land, ritual and the Jogis of Charpatnath (New Documents from Camba)

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Contested claims: Land, ritual and the Jogis of Charpatnath (New Documents from Camba)
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The article grapples with the period of transition from ‘native’ to colonial rule. It comprehends
the crisis of political-economy in transition by contextualising certain civil cases and petitions
to understand how people exploited the ambiguity between power and authority—between the
ideology of ‘tradition’ and the ‘method’ of colonial institutions—to elevate their social and
economic status. While the colonial institutions could empower individuals and groups
economically, only ‘traditional’ authority could legitimise their revision in social status. The
strategy employed by the Jogis of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, who petitioned the Raja
while simultaneously exploring the legal framework and the land settlement regime of their
British masters, indicates their comprehension of the system in transition. The institutional
framework of the latter empowered them, while the nominal authority of the Raja was invoked
to claim social status. This strategy, of social mobility and empowerment, undergirds the
transformation in the agrarianscape, and contextualises the ascendance of religious orders/
leaders who cut across caste and sectarian boundaries at the time when the state was in the
process of transition.

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