Santal historian Sumit Soren in conversation with Dr. Daniel Rycroft – Jharkhand

30th June is a red letter day for Santhals, 158 years ago [in 2013], on this day the Santhals of Damin-i-koh declared an open rebellion against tyranny and corruption.  It is a special day for all freedom loving people of the World, as the message of the Great Rebellion still echoes in the hearts and minds of Santhal no matter where they live. Each year I commemorate the “Santhal Hul” in my own way; last year I published an article in my blog which covered the trial of Seedo, one of the celebrated leaders of Santhal Rebellion.  I am thankful to the readers for giving it good response and sharing the article in social networking websites.

Sumit Soren is from Berhampore, a small town in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal. | Read the full interview >>

This year I am pleased to have Dr. Daniel Rycroft, Lecturer in the Arts and Cultures of Asia at the School of World Art Studies, University of East Anglia, with him we will talk about the Santhal Hul and Adivasis in general. […]

Dr. Daniel Rycroft: To my mind, not enough people in Britain understand how British colonialism shaped the experience of modernity for many people world-wide. During and after the Hul, The British East India Company (and later the Raj) attempted to suppress and then re-colonize the area now known as the Santal Parganas. Through this process of domination they attempted also to learn about Santal customs and religion. They also aimed to heavily industrialize areas of Jharkhand. This has clearly led to a critical situation ever since the Hul, and the effects of the counter-insurgency campaign against the so-called ‘rebels’ are still being felt. […]

I had not really heard of any Adivasi-related news or cultural events before visiting Baghmundi. That may have been because I was young and naïve, but it may also have something to do with how limited a view most British people have of the realities that comprise life in most parts of India. […]

 I thought it important to share my research with people in the Santal Parganas. So I came into contact with members of the Parganait Ram Soren Memorial Trust (Dumka), who helped me interact with the inhabitants of Bhognadih, which is where the Hul began. This was also a very eye-opening experience for me. Not only could I visit places associated with the rebellion, but also I came to understanding how important it is to remember the Hul in such a way that a degree of re-empowerment could be achieved through processes of remembering.

Sumit Soren: I must mention this documentary film- Purvajo-ni Aankh: Through the eye of the ancestor. You were the Project Director of this film, tell us more about it.

Source: In Conversation with Dr. Daniel Rycroft |
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Date Visited: Mon Feb 10 2014 10:35:26 GMT+0100 (CET)

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“The natural wealth with which much of tribal India is endowed is also its bane. […] The Adivasi is wedged between the state programme for development, meaning mines, dams, steel plants and roads, and a private agenda for quick money, which is currently termed ‘real estate’.” – Madhu Ramnath, Preface for Woodsmoke and Leafcups >>

“The police was equally corrupt. The Santhal was used to ready justice at no cost. Another more disgusting malpractice was the kamiyanti system. The idea behind it was repayment of a debt by physical labour. In practice however the debtors worked in many cases for a generations or two and yet the loan, no matter how small, could not be repaid. All these facts and circumstances led to the Santhal Hul of 1855.” – Learn more about the History of District Pakur (Government of Jharkhand) | Santal Parganas | Tribal freedom fighters >>

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