Accepted Paper:

Politics of transformation: governmentality of participation in Jharkhand  


Amit Prakash (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

Governmentality of participation in the tribal Jharkhand, India will be analysed in light of continuing politics of recognition and redistribution. Panchayats as new sites of contestation; transforming the political economy of conflict will be examined with the help of recent empirical material.

Paper long abstract:

The liberal state has struggled with policy responses to a variety of identity claims such as those from tribal identities in India. Such policy responses cover a wide spectrum - from co-option to repression and the entire range in between. However, premised on individual rights, liberal states often interpret identity claims in terms of a development-deficit, which has important implications for the self-definition of the identities themselves. The identity claims have on other the other hand, demand various forms of autonomy - with a sovereign state and symbolic recognition as two extremities.

Given the mélange of issues, conflict and often, violence has been a central feature of contestation in tribal areas. Matters get complicated owing to resource-rich nature of geographies inhabited by the tribal communities. The complex politics of recognition and redistribution that thus emerge have often been seen to create a political economy of conflict, interlocking various societal and state actors.

This apparently intractable situation is compounded by lack of structural innovations to accommodate these claims. However, some recent changes, namely, creation of local bodies in rural areas seem to have sparked off a politics of participation. Empirical evidence from Jharkhand suggests that the recent election to these local bodies, Panchayats, is creating new sites of conflict and contestation. The paper will examine some of these new patterns in light of age-old patterns of conflict along three thematics: (a) raison d'état; (b) emerging contests over justice in both its redistributive and recognition dimensions; and, (c) governmentality of participation that straddles both the above.

Panel P50
State-identity interface: explorations in economic, social and cultural dynamics of tribal communities