Escape Agriculture, Foraging Culture: The Subsistence Economy of the Kukis during the Anglo-Kuki War

in D.L. Haokip and N. Kipgen (eds.). Against the Empire: Polity, economy and culture during the Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919. New Delhi, Routledge, 2020, pp. 118-136. DOI:

This chapter looks into the economic measures taken by the British to crush the morale of the Kukis and bring the uprising under control, as well as the resilient indigenous economy of the Kukis during the Anglo-Kuki War. Through the scant references from tour diaries of colonial British political officers, despatch of operations against the Kuki tribes, and correspondences between different military officers involved in the war, I explore the subsistence economy of the Kukis during the war. Evidence from official military accounts and ethnographic studies around that time is helpful and used as an analogy for the economic practices of the Kukis during the war. The chapter explores the reasons for the failure of the resistance struggle despite such resilient subsistence practices.

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