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

Vinay Kumar SrivastavaSubscribe to Vinay Kumar Srivastava

Concept of 'Tribe' in the Draft National Tribal Policy

In the last four years, two drafts of the National Tribal Policy have been released by two different central governments. This essay, begins with a comparison of the two and then carries out a critical analysis of the second version. Whilst the draft covers almost all aspects of importance that concern tribal societies, what it lacks is the "tribal voice". Throughout its length runs the "we-they" distinction - the distinction of "givers" and "receivers". We hear the voice of bureaucrats, planners, and development specialists, which constitutes the dominant discourse on tribes. The article argues that the tribal issues should come more to the centre of our discussions in contemporary India than remaining at the margins, as is the case today.

On Anthropology of Death

On Anthropology of Death Kumkum Srivastava Vinay Kumar Srivastava Death in Banaras by J P Parry, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994. IN India, as in perhaps other cultures of the world, an overt discussion of the subject of death is almost a taboo. Words for the appurtenances associated with death such as for the funeral pier, the shroud, the ritual ingredients, or the corpse are carefully avoided in everyday speech. Members of certain communities believe that any talk of death, or mention of objects and experiences concerning it, may be dangerous; it may de facto amount to extending death an invitation. Any inadvertent mention, especially by a child, is interpreted as a premonition of sudden death of a kinsfolk. Mating calls of domestic pets and animals such as cats and dogs termed 'cries', 'wails', 'sobs' and 'weeping' are also forewarnings of an impending life crisis, the death. In north Indian villages, sighting a crow in the wee hours is inauspicious as this bird is a harbinger of death. Shops selling 'goods' required for the funeral rites such as ropes, bier, buntings, cloth, straw, are small and unassuming; they never advertise their products and keep a low profile. These shopkeepers' families are generally shunned by neighbours and looked down upon. At the same time, they are under moral pressure not to change their mode of livelihood. They have to 'live off death'.

The Ethnographer and the People-Reflections on Field Work

Reflections on Field Work Vinay Kumar Srivastava Once it is agreed that a society should be studied as a whole for contextualising a specific problem, field work for the ethnographer becomes an experience of undergoing naiivisation in a different culture, with a different set of people. In such situations an episodic narration of encounters with respondents and the actions they carry out 'naturally' is a matter of anthropological reflexivity which an ethnographer should undertake in order to identify the impediments in the process of doing field work, to describe the strategies adopted for establishing relations with the people and, above all, to outline the process in which the self is comprehended in the background of the other This paper is such a narrative reflection on field work in Baiga Chak in the Satpura region of Madhya Pradesh.

The Ethnographer and the People-Reflections on Field Work

Reflections on Field Work Vinay Kumar Srivastava Once it is agreed that a society should be studied as a whole for contextuatising a specific problem, field work for the ethnographer becomes an experience of undergoing nativisation in a different culture, with a different set of people. In such situations an episodic narration of encounters with respondents ar\d the actions they carry out 'naturally' is a matter of anthropological reflexivity which an ethnographer should undertake in order to identify the impediments in the process of doing field work, to describe the strategies adopted for establishing relations with the people and, above all, to outline the process in which the self is comprehended in the background of the other. This paper is such a narrative reflection on field work in Baiga Chak in the Satpura region of Madhya Pradesh [This paper is published in two parts. The second part will appear next week. References are appended to part two.] CLIFFORD GEERTZ [1988: 82] makes a distinction between 'anthropologist as pilgrim and as cartographer'. As pilgrim, he journeys through, invariably for more than a year, the nuances and matrices of a culture, usually different from,his own. Imbibition of the 'other culture' is an experience
Back to Top