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

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Adivasi Representation and Resistance in Chhotanagpur

Reordering Adivasi Worlds: Representation, Resistance, Memory by Sangeeta Dasgupta, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2022; pp 345, `1,695.

Sangeeta Dasgupta’s Reordering Adivasi Worlds: Representation, Resistance, Memory examines the complex, contingent and dynamic nature of Adivasi identity in India and shows how the “past,” especially, the structures of the colonial state, played a major role not only in constructing the Adivasi identity but also in reordering the rural and social landscapes of the Chhotanagpur region. Dasgupta asks: How did the Adivasis assert/exercise their agency? In particular, what were the ways and mechanisms through which the Adivasis expressed their identities, engaged with politics and negotiated with the state and non-state institutions? Moreover, how did the colonial interventions impact the remaking of the agrarian landscape and the politics of Adivasi representation?

Addressing these questions, Dasgupta makes an in-depth historical and anthropological analysis of “Adivasi identity and resistance, and shows how contemporary Adivasi protest draws upon memories of the past” (p 4). Specifically, drawing on colonial ethnography, missionary narratives and anthropological writings, Dasgupta makes two major interrelated arguments: first, it is vital to recognise “the changing role of Adivasi agency in structuring the idea of tribe” (p 12); and, second, understanding the Adivasi social world through just the idea of the “political” or the language of the “modern” is in itself self-limiting (p 181). What is therefore required, argues Dasgupta, is to recognise the multiple life worlds and belief systems, fractured identities and social hierarchies, and pluralist forms of protests and demands that reorder the Adivasi worlds in India in general and Chhotanagpur region in particular.

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Updated On : 6th Feb, 2024
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