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Abstract

In the highlands of Punjab, the British colonial government introduced a canal irrigation system that brought millions of acres under cultivation, accompanied by colonization schemes that helped install villages populated by Punjabi agriculturalists. This thesis looks at the case study of Chenab Colony, the largest and one of the earliest canal colonies, launched in 1892. Almost eighty per cent of land in this scheme was granted for peasant family farms. The biggest agricultural change brought about by the canal colonization was in terms of connecting landownership with economic security that prompted a growing trend of tenancy in the province. In this process, the size of a peasant farm was correlated with the size of the family. By tracing the evolution of colonial administrative logic the study explores how family farms acquired certain significance for Punjab government’s agricultural policy. Along with the response of peasant farms to new technology and market, this research also looks at how they coped with the conflicts generated by social engineering attempts by the British. Attempting to sketch the details of the peasant farms in the Chenab Colony, this thesis is a contribution towards understanding of social history of Western Punjab which is now a part of Pakistan. It also looks at the theoretical debates around family farming with implications for development policy in agriculture.

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