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Politicizing Memories: Elite Groups and Mysore Rule in Malabar

  • Date Submitted: 11/18/2011 08:33 PM
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POLITICIZING MEMORIES:
ELITE GROUPS AND MYSORE RULE IN MALABAR
Dr. Manmathan. M.R
Department of History
Farook College
Calicut, Kerala
mrmanmathanmr@gmail.com

      The invasion of the Mysore kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan to Kerala and the consequent establishment of Mysorean political authority over the Malabar region in the second half of the 18th century brought about decisive and fundamental changes in the existing social structure and status quo of social relations. While causing to damage the privileged position of the elite and land owning sections of the society, it simultaneously helped to empower the marginalized sections by providing them new opportunities. For the Nambutiris and Nairs, who constituted the dominant social groups of Kerala and who had enjoyed various customary rights including land ownership and feudal privileges, and who were particularly insistent on both maintaining pollution rules and on coercing others to follow them, the policies of the new rulers happened to be the first and foremost blow in history against their social command and ritual authority. On the other side, those sections, who were deprived of the prospects of social advancement mainly because of the existence of customary rules which forbade them the right to own property and opportunities of social mobility, could benefit from the new reforms because the new political atmosphere defused all existing taboos and enabled them to utilize the new situation to enhance their social prestige and economic condition. A shift in the existing status quo of social relations and customary laws brought about a veritable social revolution in the countryside and rendered the dominant groups absolutely powerless. The present paper focuses on the response of the Nambutiri Brahmin community of Kerala towards the Mysorean invasion and attempts to trace out the manner by which the hoary memories of the invasion were utilized for promoting community interests during the era of...

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