In 1996, anthropologist Mike Youngblood purchased a second-hand motorcycle in India and spent nearly three years following a massive rural political movementÂ called the Shetkari Sanghatana, spread out across the 120,000 square miles of Indiaâ€™s Maharashtra State. Â In his travels, he experienced the movement side-by-side with increasingly rich capitalist farmers, with increasingly poor peasants and rural laborers, and with the paramount leader of the movement who sought to unify them allâ€”a charismatic libertarian whom many followers purported to be a reincarnation of a benevolent â€œking of demons” from Indian mythology. Youngbloodâ€™s prize-winning book, Cultivating Community, explores this movement from the diverse perspectives of its participants. The book suggests new ways to think about leaders and the ordinary people who support them, often seemingly against their own best interests. Youngbloodâ€™s book is not just relevant to Indiaâ€”it offers insights on the puzzling nature of politics and political organizing anywhere in the world, including Presidential elections right here in the USA.
Michael Youngblood, author ofÂ Cultivating Community:Â Interest, Identity, and Ambiguity in an Indian Social MobilizationÂ (South Asian Studies Association, 2016) will deliver a talk on populist political organizing in India, based on his research in Maharashtra in the late 1990s, with links to the present situation in the United States and worldwide.Â
The flavor of Michael’s talk can be gotten from this piece published online at Medium.com -Â The Complex Intentionality of Social Movements â€“ Mike Youngblood â€“ Medium.
Michael’s presentation will take place at Bird & Beckett Books, 653 Chenery Street, San Francisco, on Tuesday, September 12th at 7 pm. Â Bird & Beckett is 1-1/2 blocks from the Glen Park BART station. For directions and more information, call the store at (415) 586-3733 or email [email protected].
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