ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Browsing through 51 Years of EPW | The Mapping of the Adivasi Social: Colonial Anthropology and Adivasis

During the colonial era, a range of disparate groups that lived for the most part in the more inaccessible hill and forest tracts, and survived largely from hunting and gathering or rudimentary swidden agriculture, were categorised by the British as “aboriginals” or “early tribes”. They were distinguished by their clan-based systems of kinship and their “animistic” religious beliefs. Sometimes, they were defined in terms of their habitat, as “jungle tribes”. In this way, a category was created, and a body of knowledge produced, about the so-called “tribes of India”. In the process, scattered...

Widening the Frames of Subaltern Studies

New Subaltern Politics: Reconceptualizing Hegemony and Resistance in Contemporary India edited by Alf Gunvald Nilsen and Srila Roy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp x + 318, ₹ 850.

Between Tradition and Modernity

The British colonial state in India ensured that the princely states were picturised as backward enclaves that kept alive an older feudal polity characterised by autocracy and underdevelopment, while British India moved towards modernity and capitalist development. However, the reality was that while the princes appeared superficially to enshrine an exotic Oriental past in their courtly and private life, the general development was carried out on the line of the colonial model. The ideological boundaries between the princely states and British territories were fluid and there was visible cross-pollination between the sociocultural and political issues and movements of the two territories. In fact, the colonial state used a number of methods to produce the effect of colonial power in the princely states. The coastal Andhra ruling class has continued a similar strategy after the formation of Andhra Pradesh state in order to subordinate the people of Telangana.

The Mapping of the Adivasi Social: Colonial Anthropology and Adivasis

The construction of textual knowledge about Indian communities in the colonial milieu resulted in an extensive literature on almost all communities that was not only used as a source of legal and general administration but also to establish colonial domination. In this process the adivasis of India were constructed apposite to civilised society, therefore a distinct society. Unfortunately, post-colonial scholarship did not decolonise this colonial construction of adivasi society
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