eJournal | The framework for the governance of ‘Scheduled Areas introduced in 1935: Those regions inhabited predominantly by Adivasis (India’s Indigenous and ‘tribal’ peoples)

Irish Journal of Anthropology (cover) Vol 19(2) 2016 - visit the website:
Irish Journal of Anthropology Vol. 19(2) 2016
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The Government of India Act was formalized in 1935 as a means of transferring administrative power from the British Raj to the Indian National Congress. It introduced a new framework for the governance of ‘Scheduled Areas,’ i.e. those regions inhabited predominantly by Adivasis (literally ‘original inhabitants’), or India’s Indigenous and ‘tribal’ peoples, such as ‘the Mundas.’ Codifying the histories of these areas according to their occupation by Adivasi societies, the Act prompted contemporary anthropological research that questioned colonial categories of racial difference. Contingent and regionally nuanced concepts emerged, such as ‘racial’ minorities, Adivasi rights, and social solidarity that refocused public and administrative attention on Adivasi history and heritage. These concepts are easily forgotten in polarized debates on the workings of assimilationist vs. protectionist ideologies in respect of Adivasi peoples and lands. Yet such shifts prompted a revision of wider temporal and cultural relations between majority (mainstream) and minority (tribal) communities. The paper [“Anthropological Archives …”] aims to explore such interfaces through the metaphor of the archive and the prospect of ‘holism’, and with close reference to the medium of portraiture. In particular, images of Birsa Munda – an Adivasi freedom-fighter from the Ranchi district of Jharkhand – are foregrounded as a means to interpret the emergent relationship of Indian anthropology to ‘the Mundas’ and to ‘the nation.’ Signified in different ways by Birsa Munda, his followers, and those interested in making the posthumous prophet-rebel visible again within the political and cultural parameters of modern India, these relations became acquired dynamism through their temporal complexity and embodiment.

URL: https://anthropologyireland.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/IJA_19_2_2016.pdf
Date visited: 4 April 2020

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Dr Rycroft is Lecturer in the Arts and Cultures of Asia at the School of World Art Studies, UEA. He specialises in South Asian art and anthropological history. He took up this post in 2006, and has since co-founded the journal World Art. He works on numerous individual and collaborative research projects. Previously Dr Rycroft held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, focusing on ‘Subalternity and Visual Representation in India’ at the University of Sussex from 2003-2005. He was then also a Senior Research Associate of the Centre for World Environmental History, and organized a conference there on ‘Reinterpreting Adivasi Movements in South Asia’ in March 2005. Since joining the School of World Art Studies Dr Rycroft has been awarded a Teaching Fellowship to develop an image archive covering core aspects of South Asian art. He is currently Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes. He also convenes the MA programmes in Cultural Heritage and facilitates a research network on Indian anthropology. He is an editorial board member of Art History, and co-founder of the South Asian Arts Group.

Source: Biography https://people.uea.ac.uk/d_rycroft

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Photo Birsa Munda © Wikipedia >> photograph in Roy (1912-72)

“Munda’s rebellion had shaken the foundations of the British empire, fighting the British army’s advanced weapons with bow and arrows. He died under mysterious circumstances in the Ranchi jail, and has, since then, been remembered as a martyr.” – Sushmita in The Wire >>

“Despite the many honours bestowed on Birsa Munda at high places, there has not been much change in the situation of tribal people at the grassroots level. The basic motivations behind tribal rebellions, i.e., Jal, Jangal aur Zameen (water, forest and land) remain the same. Hence, the fight by the tribal people of India will probably continue until a radical change is made in the government’s policy towards them.” – Ivy Imogene Hansdak in The Indian Express >>

“Who owns India? Who owns the forests and rivers, the farmlands eyed by industry, the slums coveted by real estate developers and airport authorities, the hills and plateaus desired by mining barons? In roughly a third of the country, this is no idle question.” – Sunil Khilnani in Outlook Magazine >>

“Many people – though not all – have been able to secure freedom from torture, unjustified imprisonment, summary execution, enforced disappearance, persecution and unjust discrimination, as well as fair access to education, economic opportunities, and adequate resources and health-care.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations >>

State/Union Territory-wise list: Scheduled Tribes in India >>

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