How does Geography shape and redefine society: Case of Rajasthan

Thingnam Sanjeev of National Archives of India has written a book review of this book by Yamuna Sunny. The book is called Sprout: A Social Geography of Rajasthan and looks like quite a read.

Sanjeev says:

The book is groundbreaking in terms of its presentation, the way it illuminates ideas and events with the clarity of a schoolbook. By using graphics, illustrations, pictorial maps and dialogues, it opens up a new way of approaching and understanding geography which ties up with Sunny’s claim of building on “the informal spaces of reading that should be available to the people” (in acknowledgement). The book is thus heavily driven and informed by a sense of social justice, and is indeed, a pioneering work of its kind on Rajasthan in particular, and geographical studies in India at large. Deviating from the general trend of geographical reading with its focus on the physical landscape, Sunny tries to show how the processes of production and distribution of a region determine the social formations.

The book provides us a window to critically examine the various social challenges that retrograde and divide the people of Rajasthan. It argues that popular knowledge on geography is generally confined to “the encyclopedic form” and attempts to reinvent and reinterpret new perspectives on geography. By using social imagery to explain various modes of life of Rajasthani society, Sunny shows how geography becomes the site where human groups interact with nature to produce goods. It is the unequal nature of this interaction that has produced the social categories of class, caste and gender. She has captured local cultural perspectives through the references to oral traditions, ancient texts, folklores, plays, folksongs and food culture of Rajasthan. How the Rajasthanis as a community viewed their own geography and their responses to the changing spatial relationships have also been explained. The book constitutes a relentless interrogation into how the social geography of Rajasthani society has been governed by the caste system and how it is this very system that has denied the underprivileged class/caste like Dalits free access to public spaces.

How you dislike Geography and History throughout school. This is only to figure later they are perhaps the most important and relevant subjects for the rest of your life.


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