Accepted paper:

Shifting cultivation in North East India and South East Asia: a study on cultural affinity

Author:

Jonali Devi (Cotton College)

Paper short abstract:

Shifting cultivation, originated in Neolithic period is still practiced in the hills of South East Asia and North East India. It is intricately associated with various socio-cultural practices. The paper attempts to trace the cultural affinities associated with shifting cultivation in the two regions.

Paper long abstract:

Shifting cultivation, an age old method of agricultural system, originated in Neolithic period is still practiced in the hills of South East Asia and North East India. The method is considered to be intricately associated with social structure, religious beliefs, traditional knowledge, fairs and festivals of the concerned practicing communities. The topography being hilly and mountainous, the people practicing shifting cultivation in these areas are appeared to have lived in geographic isolation. However, as geographically North East India provides a cultural bridge between the east and west, some cultural interactions between the people of South East Asia and North East India s are regarded as a possibility. The evidences traced to establish such relations however, is far and few in the available literature. It is in this context, the paper is an attempt to examine the cultural affinities, if any, between the two regions with special reference to the production system under shifting cultivation. The study is based on both primary and secondary data. The data have been gathered to identify various activities of the two production systems of the two regions like shifting cycle, crop varieties, method of growing crops, harvesting, tools in use etc as well as the associated cultural practices and then to trace out cultural affinities, if any, between the two regions. The study reveals similarities in various activities and cultural practices in the shifting cultivation of the two regions and concludes thereby that there is cultural affinities between the people of two regions.

panel P10
On the prehistoric cultural relations of Southeast Asia with Northeast India