Accepted Paper:

Personal, usufruct, group and community knowledge systems: tribal culture, forests and modernity in Jharkhand  


Abhik Ghosh (Panjab University)

Paper short abstract:

Four different kinds of knowledge are discussed here among the Mundas of Jharkhand. These forms of knowledge systems include medical knowledge and about forests. The effect of these knowledge systems and their interaction with modernity and the politics within is noted in this paper.

Paper long abstract:

Tribal use of medical systems has always been contingent on the different knowledge systems that each person accesses. This has also been dependent on the availability of various raw materials that are required. Further, the local flow of stakeholders to various kinds of medical systems, as well as their accessibility guides the use of this kind of local health practices.

Munda knowledge has been seen to be divided into four different kinds. Personal knowledge is collected, used, known and disseminated through individuals only. Usufruct knowledge is the knowledge which is often 'borrowed' from an undefinable or definable Other for use. Group knowledge is known and maintained by smaller groups within the community. Community knowledge is shared as knowledge-at-hand of the community. The very everyday nature of this knowledge is different from the relative rarity of usufruct knowledge within the community.

The canvas of the sacrosanct 'cultural', 'personal' or 'community' knowledge operates in situations where modernity and its counterparts interact with the Munda world. The sacred world of the forests also imposes its own rules of use of certain kinds of knowledge.

It is important to note that cultural issues implement changes in the way use is made of the knowledge as well as the number of people this knowledge becomes a part of. These issues will be discussed using field studies conducted among the Mundas, a tribal group of Jharkhand which stays closely associated with forests. The anthropological nature of such differential management of knowledge systems and the politics that emerge from such issues would also be discussed.

Panel P123
Anthropology and conservation: inter-relationship and future perspective