Accepted Paper:

Group rights, distributional conflicts and the making of unequal identities  


Shailaja Fennell (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

The state view of how law affects group identity and the inequalities that they have undergone is markedly instrumental in its orientation. The use of social markers such as ethnicity and class have been consciously drawn on by independent nation states. The possibility that group identity could provide a socially acceptable basis for pursuing an equitable political solution could provide a way forward for remedying inequalities that persist with regard to tribal community. The ready justice of social equity provides the foundations of such transformative legal structures. This paper will examine why these approaches have been so slow in coming forth in relation to the study of South Asian societies.

Paper long abstract:

The laws of social justice were devised to remove social obstacles that hindered the economic progress of the individual. The pursuit of possible liberties by individual were subordinated in to confronting the denial of certain rights to an individuals from tribal and other marginalised groups has been slow to emerge. The dominant account of social attributes associated with membership of a disadvantaged or subordinated group has not furthered these legal rights of such marginalised people. The strongly enunciated need, in national constitutions and other legal documents, regarding the matter of negative liberties far outweighed the valuation of positive liberties. The granting of negative liberties provides a focus on historical social injustices as were meted out on groups. The primary emphasis on negative rather than positive liberties could be regarded as the first phase of economic development. Conversely, it also raises the interesting matter of whether the pursuit of positive liberties should be as much a matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the law as has been the case of ensuring negative liberties to marginalised and peripheral groups with regard to natural resource use and management as well as the broader terrain of ensuring economic development.

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