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Narratives From the Margins (Aspects of Adivasi History in India)

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Item Code: NAS427
Author: Sajukta Das Gupta and Raj Shekhar Basu
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789380607108
Pages: 338
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 560 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Adivasis have principally been studied in the context of rebellion, environmental history and the politics of identity. However, preoccupations with definitions and notions of identity, while important in themselves, tend to shift attention away from the inner lives of these communities. This book deals with different aspects of the histories of adivasi communities—from Rajasthan in the west to Bengal and Orissa in the east. The essays in this book discuss a range of issues affecting the socio-economic and cultural life of adivasis and explore the long term continuities and discontinuities between different political regimes. They also reflect some of the new concerns that have come up relating to methodology and sources, historiography and colonial concerns, the impact of missionaries, gender issues, the agrarian situation, famines and migration.

Some of the issues addressed in this volume are the genesis and development of ‘tribal’ studies in India during the colonial period; the peasantization of adivasi groups and their assimilation within the Hindu caste fold as reflected in Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas; the work of the Protestant missions among the Santhals of Chotanagpur; the social and ritual relations between the Bhils and the Rajput ruling dynasties of Dungarpur in southern Rajasthan; the aspect of agrarian change among the Hos of Singhbhum; the factors behind the migration from Chotanagpur, its nature and organization and its impact upon the adivasi village community; the question of women’s agency in colonial Chotanagpur; and an exploration of land rights, witchcraft, employment patterns and how women challenged patriarchy in their everyday lives; and the impact of globalization and liberalization upon adivasis in contemporary India.

The book will be of use to students and scholars of history, anthropology and sociology and also to policy-planners concerned with ‘tribal’ issues.

About the Author

Sanjukta Das Gupta is Associate Professor of Indian History at the Department of Oriental Studies, Sapienza University of Rome Italy. She has earlier taught at the University of Calcutta. Her research interests include agrarian and environmental history and the social history of colonial India. She is the author of Adivasis and the Raj: Socioeconomic Transition of the Hos, 1820-1932 (2011) and has co-edited Subjects, Citizens, and Law: Colonial and Postcolonial India (2017), Narratives from the Margins: Aspects of Adivasi History in India (2012) and Narratives of the Excluded: Caste Issues in Colonial India (2008).

Raj Shekhar Basu is an Associate Professor at the Department of History, University of Calcutta. He has earlier taught in the Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He has specialized in the history of marginal groups in south India. He has co-edited Narratives of the Excluded: Caste Issues in Colonial India (2008) and Medical Encounters in British India (2013).


While preparing the second edition of this book we received the shocking news that Dr Biswamoy Pati was no more. ‘Biswamoyda’, as we called him, had been our mentor, friend and critic for more than a decade, but ours was not a relationship which could be measured formally through the numbers of years we had known him. He took a keen interest in our research and constantly encouraged and inspired us through his enthusiasm and exuberance.

A committed Marxist, Biswamoy’s theoretical leanings inspired him to look into the richness of peasant culture and the diversities which characterized peasant resilience against an exploitative colonial state. His early writings bore ample evidence of his intellectual restlessness and his attempt to combine an activist’s mind with that of an inquisitive historian’s. His writings on peasant movements went much beyond the bias towards political economy of most left-leaning academicians of his time. Despite his strong criticism of postcolonial and postmodern scholarship on South Asian history, he refused to dismiss these new ways of reading history.

The quality that set him apart from other historians was his ability to link his main field of study with other wider themes which he felt would bring out the larger story. Biswamoy’s forays into the peasant world of Odisha encouraged him to undertake detailed studies on the indigenous traditions of Dalits and Adivasis. With his infectious enthusiasm he could gather around himself young scholars engaged in varied fields of research, ranging from the history of medicine to that of the subalterns. By the early years of this century, Biswamoy had also established links with a young generation of historians from Bengal, Bihar and Odisha and brought out a number of edited volumes with scholars located away from the metropolis, and working in local archives. Biswamoy’s interest in grooming many of these younger scholars, less known in the world of academics, was to a large extent inspired by his love for the common people and their ways of interrogating the past. It is perhaps, this broadness of mind that Indian history and historians will miss most in his departure.

It was Biswamoyda who was the driving-force behind this published work. His actions as mediator between ourselves and Primus Books—a newly founded publishing house—ensured not only the success of this work, but also provided a solid foundation for Primus to go from strength to strength. To him we dedicate this edition.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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