This study aims at understanding the dynamics of state formation and the interaction between national states and local communities by focusing upon the agents involved in that interaction. While most studies in this field analyse the role of government bureaucracies and national policies, this book focuses on the role local communities, and in particular their protagonists, the local elite, play in this setting. For many years, it was thought that modern states, and in particular the post-colonial states, were strong enough to eradicate the political and cultural autonomy of "traditional" communities within their national boundaries. Recent history, however, has taught us that many of these communities show a remarkable resilience against outside interference and pressures to relinquish their autonomy, not necessarily through outright opposition to the state. In some cases, modern nation-states have reinforced, rather than weakened, "traditional" local power structures as local power-holders were able to find a modus vivendi with regional state bureaucracies, as well as with other "modern" institutions and ideologies that arrived in the local communities in the course of time.