“A Class Apart”: Adivaani’s 10-year anniversary

Read the whole success story and the challenges met by Adivaani’s founder, Ruby Hembrom >>

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of adivaani. Over the last decade, the publishing house, whose name means “first voices,” has published 19 books in categories spanning fiction, social sciences, memoir, poetry and art. All the titles are reasonably priced, between ₹90 and ₹500. […]

The topics are diverse and specific. Oraon poet-journalist Jacinta Kerketta’s poetry, for instance, deals with Adivasi struggles for land and a voice. […]

Hembrom herself has written three children’s books for adivaani, spoken at international literary festivals, and received several awards and fellowships for her contribution to elevating Adivasi forms of knowledge and cultures in the public domain. […]

In 2012, Hembrom enrolled in a publishing course in Kolkata, which she asked me not to identify by name. She was 33 at the time, and believed that the publishing industry could not throw her anything she hadn’t seen or dealt with before. When she met a fellow Indian publisher at the Frankfurt Book Fair a couple of years later, the conversation didn’t surprise her. “She told me, ‘Don’t forget your privilege,’” Hembrom said. “Being able to navigate in English, sitting with her in a car as an equal: that was a privilege for her.” […]

Can we produce knowledge that is emancipatory for tribal and adivasi realities?” By centring the Adivasi reader—even at the cost of the non-Adivasi reader—adivaani hopes to retire the opposition between assimilation and isolation, a debate that has sustained a cottage industry of nonprofits, researchers, and bureaucrats, ever since the anthropologist Verrier Elwin and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru coined its hackneyed terms in the early years of independent India. […]

For readers interested in exploring Adivasi literary cultures, check out adivaani’s current catalogue, and either order directly or support your city’s independent bookstores. Champaca Bookstore in Bengaluru, Dogears Bookshop in Margao, May Day Bookstore in Delhi and Earthcare Books in Kolkata all carry adivaani’s books. 

Source: “Title Deeds” by Madhuri Karak, Fiftytwo.in, 20 August 2022
URL: https://fiftytwo.in/story/title-deeds/
Date Visited: 21 August 2o22

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.

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