A community whose members resist being treated as mere ‘objects’ of scientific studies: Apatani community to fight stereotypical depictions of their traditional practices – Arunachal Pradesh

Nitin Sethi, The Hindu, August 30, 2013

The Apatani community of Arunachal Pradesh sees red over a wildlife research article that paints their hunting practices with stereotypical colours

The Apatani community members in Arunachal Pradesh have protested against an article published by researchers of the Wildlife Institute of India in the Current Science journal. The article ‘Losing threatened and rare wildlife to hunting in Ziro valley, Arunachal Pradesh, India’ written by four wildlife researchers indicated that the Apatani people hunt primarily for subsistence.  […]

On most occasions, the research would have just got filed in to credit points for the researchers at India’s premier wildlife and conservation research centre. But a vigilant community leadership of the Apatani with the help of some other researchers took notice of the study and its sweeping statements. They came out to challenge the researchers not only for their conclusions but also their methods.

The critique was scathing. Members of NgunuZiro, a community organisation of the Apatani people, pointed out various discrepancies in the survey methodology due to which they claimed misleading conclusions were made. They noted, “According to the authors, semi-structured questionnaire designed for Asiatic Wild Dog Project was used in the survey. Interestingly, the questionnaire is claimed to have been applied in six Apatani villages with the help of an auto-rickshaw driver whose name does not sound like an Apatani name.” The researchers had mentioned one Rubo Tahi, a driver and another Manas Hazarika as field assistants who helped collect data. […]

The strong rebuttal from the Apatani people of scientific research, that too, in the ‘language of rational science and statistics’ is still a rare phenomenon in the world. Communities in the northeast, wary of being captured repeatedly in research to fit traditional stereotypes, have begun to argue back. For the wildlife research community, the perception and sweeping judgment over tribal communities’ traditional practices, its impact on wildlife and forests is also well documented. But assertive communities are now able to engage with the language of the academia; careful about how they are portrayed, they have begun to question not only the methods, the findings but also the stereotypical prescriptions often dished out too often. The Apatani fight back is one good example of the communities that no more accept being treated as merely  ‘objects’ of scientific studies.

Source: Hunting on hackneyed ideas – The Hindu
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/hunting-on-hackneyed-ideas/article5073841.ece
Date Visited: Mon Sep 29 2014 16:43:03 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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