This book has its origins in my contemplating the pursuit of doctoral
research. The fieldwork for it began in January 1999 when I landed in
Ranchi City, Jharkhand, India, as a research assistant on a project eval-
uating a development project funded by the U.K. government. Three
months later, at the end of this assignment, I was convinced that I
wanted to pursue independent academic research in Jharkhand. I
moved to the market town of Bero, where I stayed until June 1999.
Having enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the London School of
Economics and Political Science in September 1999, I returned to
Jharkhand in November 2000 for a longer period of field research
that lasted until June 2002. This time I was based in the village I call
Tapu, but I also rented rooms in Bero and Ranchi as I wanted to
situate Tapu in the broader context of what was happening in the
state and national arena. I returned for further periods of fieldwork:
January through February 2004, and January through March 2007
and 2008.
The book is thus the result of nearly a decade of my life, and I have
acquired many debts along the way—too many to do justice to here. I
first thank the Economic and Social Research Council for the funding
I have received through doctoral and into postdoctoral research,
without which this book would not have been possible. I am also
extremely grateful to the Wenner-Gren Foundation and their award-
ing me the Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship, which made completing
this book a pleasure. I am also grateful for the various smaller fellow-
ships and awards I received along the way, all of which have made a
di√erence and allowed me to keep working on this project: the LSE
Malinowski Award and Metcalfe Scholarship, the Newnham College
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