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Unraveling Farmer Suicides in IndiaEgoism and Masculinity in Peasant Life$
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Nilotpal Kumar

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199466856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199466856.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Unraveling Farmer Suicides in India

Nilotpal Kumar

Oxford University Press

The dominant narratives of ‘farmers’ suicides’ typically claim that it has a ‘farm-related’ causality and that the incidence of such suicides as registered in government statistics are remarkably high across time. This chapter interrogates the positivistic epistemology underlying the claims. These grounds include the presupposition that farming-related reasons behind suicide are self-evident, official suicide statistics can be used uncritically, and that ascribing motives to suicide officially is an objective and uniform exercise that is devoid of social and cultural processes. A critical realist methodology for explaining suicide is adopted. The chapter then proposes the analytical constructs of agrarian capitalism, egoism in social relationships, and status-oriented consumption as three important means for understanding the local modernity of Anantapur and its relationship to local suicides. A description of the manner in which wider national and global economic and social processes relate to local structures and norms, and create grounds for actions in these spheres helps explain why and how suicide is conceived and committed in local farming communities.

Keywords:   suicide, statistics, positivism, agrarian change, modernity, egoism, consumption

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