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The Politics of Abandonment and the Undoing of Agricultural Expansion on the Medieval Deccan, Southern India


Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

In this presentation I interrogate the material record and theoretical possibilities of human habitation’s obverse at the site of Maski (Raichur District, Karnataka, India), a Medieval Period center on the Deccan plateau that was largely abandoned in the early 14th century during a time of marked precipitation stress and new modes of imperialism in the region. Rather than frame the ostensible desertion of the site and its extensive agricultural fields through the lens of “failure,” “collapse,” or resilience theory’s concern for “reorganization,” I consider changes in the occupation of the settlement complex with attention to the politics of abandonment and the enduring materialities of place. I ask, for instance, how might settlement vacancy be considered a rejection of specific modes of institutionalized temple patronage and/or a successful strategy of avoiding taxation or conscription through new state and imperial practices during the period? In doing so, I problematize common archaeological theorizations of occupational histories, the epistemological limits for an archaeology of politics, and how the constitution of social relationships and distinctions articulated with landscapes histories on the Medieval Deccan.

Wed January 18th 2023, 12:00pm
Andrew Bauer