Ruby Hembrom on Adivaani’s prize for English writing on indigenous ideology, thought and knowledge – International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Read the full interview here >>

Budhaditya Bhattacharya, The Hindu, NEW DELHI, August 30, 2013

Ruby Hembrom on Adivaani and the challenges of publishing Adivasi writing in English

On August 8 this year, the eve of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Ruby Hembrom decided to institute Adivasi Pickle, a “prize for indigenous ideology, thought and knowledge”. In the announcement, she called on Adivasis to share unpublished stories of their lives, struggles and triumphs. From the submissions, a jury will select “the most relevant entry”. This will be published in August, 2014, by Adivaani, a publishing house “by and for” Adivasis, started last year by Ruby.

A lawyer by training, Ruby was born and brought up in Kolkata. While attending a publishing course, which introduced her to the whole spectrum of the Indian publishing business, Ruby noticed that Adivasis were conspicuous by their absence. Along with Joy Tudu and Luis A Gomes, who are now handling Adivaani’s marketing and design aspects respectively, she set out to redress this lack. […]

With this prize, they hope to reach out to other tribes. “India is vast and has so many tribes, known and unknown. We want to reach out to everyone, and to do that, this is the only way”  […]

“The reason we want to publish in English because we want other people to read us and know about us. Even though Adivasi writing has been published in indigenous languages, the reach is very limited. We think, out of all the languages that are not our own, we would rather go with English,” she replies. “Having said that, I understand the limitations of our people in communicating in English… All we are saying is ‘Come as you are, we will help you’.” Fluency in English is not the determinant for selection, the content and impact of writing are. […]

Recalling the publication of the illustrated Santhal creation stories, Ruby talks about how the characterisation of supernatural beings had been hitherto influenced by Bollywood conventions. “A supernatural being would always be in a flowing white gown…We decided to just have eyes. Every time he would talk, the eyes would look in a particular direction,” she says.

Adivaani is bringing out The Santal and the Biblical Creation Traditions: Anthropological & Theological Reflections by Timotheas Hembrom and a book on the Red Corridor later this year.

Source: A new voice – The Hindu
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Date Visited: Sat Aug 31 2013 13:10:16 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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The Santals are one of the largest homogenous indigenous peoples group in India […] They have no temples, nor images to worship and no fixed place to worship in; no holy mountains and no sacred rivers for pilgrimages and yet they hold an unassailable religious faith which can be traced through the tradition of the creation narrative, through their festivals, their cleansing ceremonies performed during their birth, wedding, and death, and through their belief in the continuation of life after death | Santal customs >>

Learn more about Ruby Hembrom and Adivaani: beautiful, well researched books by India’s Adivasi authors, and projects that help students and other readers to appreciate various cultural traditions.