Museum & Society – A re-evaluation of Adivasi Heritage by Prof. Ganesh Devy

A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice by
Ganesh [G.N.] Devy | Publications >>

“There is an intimate connection between the historical process of the creation of ‘Adivasi’ as a social category and the construction of the knowledge about the Adivasi communities as well as the popular imagery of Adivasis. Therefore, the management of memory in relation to the Adivasi communities is likely to run into contradictions when placed within the institutionalised and public spaces. In order to get beyond these contradictions, it becomes necessary to privilege the oral over the written, and myth over history. In return, of course, the established institutions of managing memory stand to gain by the theoretical complexities posed by the Adivasi heritage to the current museum practices in India. I intend to demonstrate this view with reference to the Museum of Adivasi Voice at Tejgadh.” […]

Ganesh Devy (*1950) is founder and director of the Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh, Gujarat and founding member of the BHASHA Research & Publication Centre Baroda, that are devoted to the concerns and human rights of the Adivasi communities as well as the preservation and revitalisation of Adivasi languages. In addition to that Ganesh Devy works as an author, publisher and literary critic. He has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for `After Amnesia’, the SAARC Writers’ Foundation Award and recently the Linguapax Award.

Source: FAAKIR – The Future of Anthropology’s Archival Knowledge: an International Reassessment
Date Visited: 27 May 2012

Tip: read “Inclusive Education: A View of Higher Education in India”, a public lecture by Prof. Ganesh [G.N.] Devy delivered on September 26th, 2010 at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore

Some years ago Sunil Khilnani, author of the elegantly written The Idea of India, a long discursive essay on post-independent India very much shaped by a Nehruvian sensibility, embarked on a rather different enterprise as he attempted to grapple with a country characterized by a long past. How might we imagine the history of India if we were to view it through the lives of some of its most arresting men and women—and equally some who won little recognition beyond their own community, fell into obscurity, or were architects of policies that have long since been disowned? The outcome was a book that Khilnani called Incarnations: India in 50 Lives (2016). […]

The desire to be ‘even-handed and fair-minded’ may evoke some cynicism from the reader with a knowledge of the British attempt in India to represent themselves as neutral gatekeepers, but others might say only that Dehejia is being true to the calling of her profession.

Since nationaTo understand the circumstances that have conspired to make possible a work such as Dehejia’s, it is necessary to recapitulate a few recent developments in historical scholarship. There is, after some decades where cultural studies predominated and the gaze was riveted on the politics of representations, once again the turn to material history. It is immaterial that the Chola Temple Walls which Dehejia adroitly describes as a ‘Public Record Office’ (pp. 68-69), covered as they are with inscriptions, cannot quite be held in one’s hands as is generally true of many objects. Her objects are artefacts that inscribe a past, speak to the present, and occasionally portend the future. Secondly, Dehejia is still beholden to one of subaltern history and postcolonial theory’s most potent insights, namely the place of the ‘fragment’ in the imaginary of the nation. Taken together, her objects—and other like objects—are more than the sum of the parts; but each is a fragment, sometimes calling forth other associations, occasionally a whole unto itself, and sometimes orphaned. Thirdly, and relatedly, since national histories have become suspect to enlightened liberals, more particularly as they generally degenerate into becoming nationalist histories, scholars have had to search for new ways to write national histories without succumbing to the nationalist malady. Dehejia’s history of India through 100 objects can certainly be read in this vein. […]

Objects with which we have lived for a very long time may take on new forms. […]

Source: A Review article on India:  A Story Through 100 Objects, by Vidya Dehejia. Delhi:  Lustre Press/Roli Books, 2021. ISBN: 978-81-94969174.  279 pp.
Date Visited: 13 October 2021

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