© 2018

Precarious Labour and Informal Economy

Work, Anarchy, and Society in an Indian Village


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Smita Yadav
    Pages 1-42
  3. Smita Yadav
    Pages 83-105
  4. Smita Yadav
    Pages 165-198
  5. Smita Yadav
    Pages 199-223
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 225-253

About this book


An empirical account of one of India’s largest indigenous populations, this book tells the story of the Gonds—who currently face displacement and governmental control of the region’s forests, which has crippled their economy. Rather than protesting and calling for state intervention, the Gonds have turned toward an informal economy: they not only engage with flexible forms of work, but also bargain for higher wages and experience agency and autonomy. Smita Yadav conceives of this withdrawal from the state in favour of precarious forms of work as an expression of anarchy by this marginalized population. Even as she provides rich detail of the Gonds’ unusual working lives, which integrate work, labour, and debt practices with ideologies of family and society, Yadav illustrates the strength required to maintain dignity when a welfare state has failed.


informal economy Entrepreneurship Gonds India Majoori Majdoors rural industries self-employment unskilled wage workers labour ontologies poverty ethnography sustenance self reliance

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of BrightonBrightonUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Smita Yadav is an anthropologist interested in statelessness/state, anarchy, labour, precarity, universal basic income, gender, migration, religion, secularism, poverty,  indigenous knowledge, South Asia, environment, and politics of  development. She has over ten years experience working as a consultant and academic on these topics in India, US, and UK. She is currently preparing a project on religion, secularism, state and development in India. She teaches Human Geography at the University of Brighton and is a Postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sussex where she completed her PhD in Anthropology.

Bibliographic information


“This well-researched and detailed book will have value for those interested in the changing lives of forest-dependent peoples in Central India and offers particularly insightful comments on education and welfare … .” (Adam Runacres, LSE Review of Books, July 10, 2019)