Reordering Adivasi Worlds

Representation, Resistance, Memory

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ISBN:

9780190127916

Publication date:

20/10/2021

Hardback

368 pages

We sell our titles through other companies
Disclaimer :You will be redirected to a third party website.The sole responsibility of supplies, condition of the product, availability of stock, date of delivery, mode of payment will be as promised by the said third party only. Prices and specifications may vary from the OUP India site.

ISBN:

9780190127916

Publication date:

20/10/2021

Hardback

368 pages

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Recounting the story of the Oraons and Tana Bhagats of Chhotanagpur in the present-day state of Jharkhand, this book questions postcolonial understandings of the category of 'tribe' and unravels the threads of a hierarchical adivasi world. It unpacks colonial ethnography, missionary narratives, and anthropological writings; explores issues of adivasi identity and resistance; and demonstrates how contemporary adivasi protest draws upon memories of the past. Dasgupta argues that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ideas of 'tribe' were not abstract imaginaries but structured colonial interventions. These affected the shaping of customary rights; the understanding of the rural world; and the perception of customs and practices. She analyses the ways in which Tana Bhagats questioned hierarchies among the Oraons; opposed landlords, moneylenders, and the colonial state; and engaged with Gandhi and the Congress. Dasgupta delineates how Tanas allude to their diverse experiences and distinctive memories to negotiate with the sarkar even today.

Rights:  World Rights

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Description

Recounting the story of the Oraons and Tana Bhagats of Chhotanagpur in the present-day state of Jharkhand, this book questions postcolonial understandings of the category of 'tribe' and unravels the threads of a hierarchical adivasi world. It unpacks colonial ethnography, missionary narratives, and anthropological writings; explores issues of adivasi identity and resistance; and demonstrates how contemporary adivasi protest draws upon memories of the past.

Dasgupta argues that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ideas of 'tribe' were not abstract imaginaries but structured colonial interventions. These affected the shaping of customary rights; the understanding of the rural world; and the perception of customs and practices. She analyses the ways in which Tana Bhagats questioned hierarchies among the Oraons; opposed landlords, moneylenders, and the colonial state; and engaged with Gandhi and the Congress. Dasgupta delineates how Tanas allude to their diverse experiences and distinctive memories to negotiate with the sarkar even today.

Using colonial archives, oral narratives, and contemporary pamphlets, this book examines the contending 'truths' produced around adivasi protest, and the complex interplay between the past and the present, the oral and the written.

About the author:

Sangeeta Dasgupta teaches in the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Table of contents

Contents
List of Images
Notes on the Text
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Reordering Adivasi Worlds
I. AUTHENTICATING VOICES, CONTENDING TRADITIONS
1. Description to Definition: Oraons in Colonial Ethnography
2. Heathen Aboriginals, Animistic Races: Missionary Narratives
3. A Journey with the Oraons: Sarat Chandra Roy's Anthropology
II. THE MANY NARRATIVES OF TANA PASTS
4. Pagan Tanas, Dangerous Aboriginals, Sensitive Prophets: Tales from the Archive
5. Between Forests and Fields: Mapping Tana Identities
6. Gandhi, Charkha, Swaraj: Congress Symbols and Tana Meanings
7. Stories, Pamphlets, Petitions: Tana Readings of Their Past

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Review

“Reordering” and “becoming” are the two seemingly simple terms that power this sensitive exploration of how styles of constructing the present seek to evoke the past. Sangeeta Dasgupta shows us how community historians and professional historians differ in what they consider acceptable versions of the past. But she also shows how similar they are in constantly reordering their interpretations. Dasgupta uses oral narratives, pamphlets and archival material to make two convincing points. First, historical categories (such as community or adivasi) can never be taken for granted; they are forever becoming. And second, professional historians must better reconcile their own crafting of the past with popular forms of knowledge production. Like her, historians could become fieldworkers who weigh their archival findings against living memories.

Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam & International Institute of Social History

Reordering Adivasi Worlds treats the question of the Adivasi identity as not one of being but becoming. To do so, it unpacks the concept of “tribe” deployed in colonial ethnography, missionary narratives, and anthropological representations, and explores Adivasi resistance and memories. Moving nimbly between the past and the present, and the written record and oral narratives, this book offers a fascinating history of the Adivasis as well as a profound meditation on the methodological challenges of writing their history.

Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University

Strongly rooted in the present, with a deep awareness of precolonial Adivasi experiences, this path-breaking monograph renders the Adivasi category profoundly processual as well as multi dimensional. It navigates the plural and shifting identities of modern Oraons: as Oraon, as Tana Bhagat, as Hindu or Christian, as Sarna Dharam devotee – and as Adivasi. Dasgupta explores the making and self-making of the modern Oraon community through their many relationships: with the colonial and postcolonial state, with land and production, with missionaries, with anti-colonial rebellion and Gandhian nationalism, and with neo-Hinduism. She studies complex historical trajectories with the help of diverse archives and narratives. Remarkably, she never takes any of her “sources” - colonial documents, missionary papers, Indian and western anthropological accounts, oral histories – simply as given, but provides each with a history of its making. Refusing to assume the Oraons to be a monolithic community, she stratifies their rebellion to identify strands of internal power play. While their material marginalization and deprivation as well as their attempted appropriation under various political and academic projects are sharply delineated, Dasgupta also vividly captures their agency through descriptions of their political and cultural activism – letting them speak in their own voices, and also tracking them in archival files. At the same time, she is alert to the fact that they speak in many voices that shift over time. Such a finely-tuned sense of constant change and immense complexity of historical experience, however, is expressed through a work which is a pleasure to read because of its clarity of analysis and its captivating narrative construction. This is an immensely valuable work for scholars of modern Oraons in particular, of Adivasis more generally, and also for all scholars of South Asia.

Tanika Sarkar, Retired professor, Modern History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Sangeeta Dasgupta

Description

Recounting the story of the Oraons and Tana Bhagats of Chhotanagpur in the present-day state of Jharkhand, this book questions postcolonial understandings of the category of 'tribe' and unravels the threads of a hierarchical adivasi world. It unpacks colonial ethnography, missionary narratives, and anthropological writings; explores issues of adivasi identity and resistance; and demonstrates how contemporary adivasi protest draws upon memories of the past.

Dasgupta argues that nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ideas of 'tribe' were not abstract imaginaries but structured colonial interventions. These affected the shaping of customary rights; the understanding of the rural world; and the perception of customs and practices. She analyses the ways in which Tana Bhagats questioned hierarchies among the Oraons; opposed landlords, moneylenders, and the colonial state; and engaged with Gandhi and the Congress. Dasgupta delineates how Tanas allude to their diverse experiences and distinctive memories to negotiate with the sarkar even today.

Using colonial archives, oral narratives, and contemporary pamphlets, this book examines the contending 'truths' produced around adivasi protest, and the complex interplay between the past and the present, the oral and the written.

About the author:

Sangeeta Dasgupta teaches in the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Read More

Reviews

“Reordering” and “becoming” are the two seemingly simple terms that power this sensitive exploration of how styles of constructing the present seek to evoke the past. Sangeeta Dasgupta shows us how community historians and professional historians differ in what they consider acceptable versions of the past. But she also shows how similar they are in constantly reordering their interpretations. Dasgupta uses oral narratives, pamphlets and archival material to make two convincing points. First, historical categories (such as community or adivasi) can never be taken for granted; they are forever becoming. And second, professional historians must better reconcile their own crafting of the past with popular forms of knowledge production. Like her, historians could become fieldworkers who weigh their archival findings against living memories.

Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam & International Institute of Social History

Reordering Adivasi Worlds treats the question of the Adivasi identity as not one of being but becoming. To do so, it unpacks the concept of “tribe” deployed in colonial ethnography, missionary narratives, and anthropological representations, and explores Adivasi resistance and memories. Moving nimbly between the past and the present, and the written record and oral narratives, this book offers a fascinating history of the Adivasis as well as a profound meditation on the methodological challenges of writing their history.

Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University

Strongly rooted in the present, with a deep awareness of precolonial Adivasi experiences, this path-breaking monograph renders the Adivasi category profoundly processual as well as multi dimensional. It navigates the plural and shifting identities of modern Oraons: as Oraon, as Tana Bhagat, as Hindu or Christian, as Sarna Dharam devotee – and as Adivasi. Dasgupta explores the making and self-making of the modern Oraon community through their many relationships: with the colonial and postcolonial state, with land and production, with missionaries, with anti-colonial rebellion and Gandhian nationalism, and with neo-Hinduism. She studies complex historical trajectories with the help of diverse archives and narratives. Remarkably, she never takes any of her “sources” - colonial documents, missionary papers, Indian and western anthropological accounts, oral histories – simply as given, but provides each with a history of its making. Refusing to assume the Oraons to be a monolithic community, she stratifies their rebellion to identify strands of internal power play. While their material marginalization and deprivation as well as their attempted appropriation under various political and academic projects are sharply delineated, Dasgupta also vividly captures their agency through descriptions of their political and cultural activism – letting them speak in their own voices, and also tracking them in archival files. At the same time, she is alert to the fact that they speak in many voices that shift over time. Such a finely-tuned sense of constant change and immense complexity of historical experience, however, is expressed through a work which is a pleasure to read because of its clarity of analysis and its captivating narrative construction. This is an immensely valuable work for scholars of modern Oraons in particular, of Adivasis more generally, and also for all scholars of South Asia.

Tanika Sarkar, Retired professor, Modern History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Read More

Table of contents

Contents
List of Images
Notes on the Text
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Reordering Adivasi Worlds
I. AUTHENTICATING VOICES, CONTENDING TRADITIONS
1. Description to Definition: Oraons in Colonial Ethnography
2. Heathen Aboriginals, Animistic Races: Missionary Narratives
3. A Journey with the Oraons: Sarat Chandra Roy's Anthropology
II. THE MANY NARRATIVES OF TANA PASTS
4. Pagan Tanas, Dangerous Aboriginals, Sensitive Prophets: Tales from the Archive
5. Between Forests and Fields: Mapping Tana Identities
6. Gandhi, Charkha, Swaraj: Congress Symbols and Tana Meanings
7. Stories, Pamphlets, Petitions: Tana Readings of Their Past

Read More