Representations of Birsa Munda: Leader of the 1890 Munda rebellion – Jharkhand


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Visualizing memories

In his article, Daniel Rycroft addresses the problem of cultural heritage and its construction. Dealing with the cultural interface between Adivasis and post-colonial governance, he redefines heritage as ‘looking both ways’ – from the community outwards as well as the outsider’s gaze. His exploration of this interface between the archive and the portraiture, focuses on representations of Birsa Munda, the leader of the uligan [Ulgulaan] or Munda rebellion of the 1890s. Birsa is perceived both as a prophet by the Munda and as a ‘freedom-fighter’ in the larger society of Jharkhand. Exploring the visualisation of Birsa Munda, he defines the successive representations of Birsa as a chiasmic archive of different encounters and memories. He further shows that this archive, which engages with past rebellion, succeeds in re-invigorating the ethnographic present. This archive has an empowering effect by articulating lost memory to the ethnographic present.

Source: Irish Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 19(2) 2016 Autumn/Winter
Accessed: 17-12-17

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 I believe that the Birsa Ulgulaan cannot be studied as a singular and isolated moment in the history of colonial India, but rather more powerfully as a metaphor and symbol of resistance that offers an alternative political vision. – Rahul Ranjan

Source: Asia Dialogue, Birsa Munda and his Ulgulaan (rebellion)
Date visited: 17 September 2019

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