This panel hopes to re-contextualise adivasi experiences and identities in the colonial period, and in present times, and engage with different kinds of archives, in order to rethink the analytic terrains upon which adivasi histories are premised.
This panel, the second in the series (the first one was organized as part of ECSAS 2014), focuses on adivasis, a marginalized group located in a world that was transformed by colonialism, and today, by the postcolonial Indian state. We hope to enlarge the analytic terrains upon which adivasi histories are premised; we also hope to engage with different kinds of archives that would help us to frame new questions. Adivasi experiences and identities today need to be re-contextualised: whilst their histories can be written with adivasis as vulnerable subjects of 'progress' and 'development', they also need to be seen as agents able to negotiate with the structures of power and dominance. The term itself is constantly being re-invented in different oppositional contexts; we need to refine the binaries of adivasis versus non-adivasis, state versus communities. Our questions are as follows: How did colonialism bring about transformations in adivasi worlds? How do we rewrite adivasi histories in the light of the Anthropocene? In the context of new modes of extraction supported by the Indian state, how do different actors position themselves within the paradigm of development? How does the politics of resistance enable adivasis to be critical of the state and yet engage with it? How do bureaucratic-administrative-legal regimes lead to a re-fashioning of adivasi identities? While our focus is on India, we however invite papers on 'tribes' in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan in order to explore possibilities for thinking comparatively and theoretically across conventional, yet artificially created, boundaries.