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ADIVASI STUDIES: CONTOURS OF A FIELD

This panel is an attempt to bring academics and activists together in order to delineate the contours of the interdisciplinary field of Adivasi Studies.

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Convenors:

· Sangeeta Dasgupta Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India)
· Vinita Damodaran Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex (Sussex, United Kingdom)

Long Abstract

Our panel is an attempt to bring academics and activists together in order to delineate the contours of the field of Adivasi Studies. This field is becoming increasingly relevant as adivasis become visible in stories of marginalization and assertion. Adivasi Studies engages with what is happening on the ground, with contemporary articulations of adivasi identity, with adivasi voices and adivasi experiences; the genesis of many of the debates around adivasis also needs to be traced to the pre-colonial and colonial pasts. The meaning attached to adivasi, we argue, has changed with historiographical shifts, disciplinary interventions and more recently, with the emergence of indigenous rights movement across the globe, the neoliberal developmental initiatives of the Indian state, and the ultra-left underground Maoist insurgency. How far has Adivasi Studies managed to establish itself as a legitimate field of enquiry into the history, experiences and politics of communities? In what ways is its turf separate from that of Dalit Studies? How do we problematize the term ‘adivasi’? How do we understand stories of dispossession, deforestation and resistance? Can the story of the Indian adivasi feed into global debates of indigeniety and indigenousness particularly in the contexts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Australia? In what ways is its turf separate from that of Dalit Studies? In this panel, we invite papers that cut across pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial time-frames, geographical spaces and disciplinary boundaries since the newly emerging field of Adivasi Studies engages with archaeology, anthropology, history, indigenous studies and developmental economics.

Presentations