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Accepted Paper:

Persistence of exploitative dependency: examining the enduring legacy of unequal timber relations and indigenous marginalization in Kerala  
Antony Jacob Sebastian (Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines NTFP reliance among tribes in Kerala as indicative of historical marginalization from timber wealth. Tracing unequal colonial-era timber relations, it argues exploitative dependencies persist despite policy changes, hindering indigenous welfare.

Paper long abstract:

This paper critically interrogates the multifaceted role of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) in the sustenance of indigenous (tribal) communities, with a specific focus on the Kattunaicker community in the state of Kerala, India. While the socio-economic significance of NTFP for forest dwellers is well-acknowledged, this research seeks to unveil an additional dimension – NTFP as an emblematic marker of exclusion from timber resources.

Exploring the historical backdrop, notably during the colonial era, timber, especially teak, emerged as a commodity of profound quality and quantity. The colonial exploitation of Indian forest resources, including the export of timber for both personal and commercial gains, notably impacted tribal communities. This manifested through a dual process of geographical and policy-based exclusion, compelling these communities out of the forests to the fringes and subjecting them to economic marginalization.

Drawing on empirical evidence derived from Kerala, the study offers insights into the persistence of historical exploitative dependency relations pivoted in timber between the colonial state and its colony. This examination sheds light on the enduring marginalization of indigenous communities in contemporary times. This research enhances our comprehension of the intricate dynamics surrounding tribal dependence on NTFP and the corresponding absence of tribal reliance on timber, offering a nuanced perspective on this complex socio-economic indicator deeply rooted in historical exploitation. The enduring implications for Indigenous communities are carefully unraveled within this scholarly exploration.

Panel P08
The colonial roots of commodity dependence
  Session 4 Thursday 27 June, 2024, -