The Adaptable Peasant investigates the structural changes in western Sri Lanka’s agrarian society under the administration of the Dutch United East India Company (VOC) in the mid-eighteenth century. Drawing from an array of Dutch language sources, it attempts to reconstruct the encounter between the Company and two major historical actors in present day Colombo and Gampaha districts: the peasant cultivators and the indigenous chiefs.
This book charts the changes in the land tenure system that paved the way for a modern system of private property relations in areas where peasant agriculture was the predominant form of production. In the course of this encounter, a new class differentiation emerged while the indigenous chiefs turned into powerful landowners. The dynamics of caste formation too acquired a new shape as a result of this early colonial encounter.
The book was first published by Brill Publishers, Leiden in 2008 and its revised edition will be published in 2022 by TAP with permission from Brill for distribution in Sri Lanka and India.