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The Issue of Tribal Rights: Colonial Policy towards Pastoral Nomads and Adivasi Groups.

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Presentation on theme: "The Issue of Tribal Rights: Colonial Policy towards Pastoral Nomads and Adivasi Groups."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Issue of Tribal Rights: Colonial Policy towards Pastoral Nomads and Adivasi Groups

2 Areas Inhabited by “Tribal” Groups, c. 19 th c Bhils Gonds santals Bedars Gujjars Bhattis Afghan, Gujjar Lohani tribes

3 The use of “Tribal” in Colonial Discourse Used to differentiate groups that in the gov’t’s observation did not follow “Hindu” caste rules Covered a range of un-related groups: pastoral nomads, settled Afghans, forest dwellers A range of values are ascribed to each of these groups—some mutually contradictory

4 Values/Stereotypes associated with “Tribal” groups in Colonial sources Completely different and cut off from caste society—their mobility and lifestyle are very different Placed on an imagined historical/social scale of difference as “aboriginal” “barbaric” In early 19 th century seen as troublemakers—raiders and bandits, some labeled as belonging to “criminal castes and tribes” By mid-19 th century new ideas emerge—influenced by notion of “noble savage” Regardless, these groups are seen by colonial officials as a problem to be solved

5 What generates this view? Prejudices associated with the mobility of these groups—ideas about a historical scale of “civilization” Their mobility is a threat to colonial ideas of law and order, sealing of borderlands Racial prejudice plays a role Protestant/evengelical notions of productivity and utilitarianism view “tribal” modes of production as primitive and wasteful –Their territories are in land that now has value Nomads and forest dwellers are hard to tax

6 Traders on Indo-Tibetan border, 19 th c

7 Historical scale of Civilization The idea created by “whig” view of history that historical development is a constant process towards human betterment In this view, human ‘civilization’ moves from primitive activity such as hunting and gathering to settled agriculture to industrialized production Societies that do not exhibit this forward trend are “backward” Does not incorporate notion of ecological specialization Stress their use of land, religious beliefs, acquisition of wealth as a measure of civilization

8 Problem of Mobility for Colonial Government In the northwest Afghan, Lohani and other groups cross borders that are considered unsecure and dangerous –Concerns about spying, issue of Central Asian rivalry with Afghanistan, later w/ Russia In Central and western India tribal groups accused of raiding—seen as congenital criminals Mobile groups are hard to tax Mobility of “slash and burn” agriculture in Central and Northeastern India seen as “wasteful” loss of timber

9 Racial Prejudice By 19 th century a scientific discourse of race is being created “Tribal” groups are placed at the bottom of the new hierarchy of European/Asians New disciplines such as Anthropology use so-called “scientific” methods to support these claims New literature, live exhibitions of such groups popularize these theories

10 Portrain from Northeast, c. 1880

11 Ideas of Productivity Moral values ascribed to hard work such as farming and factory labor, versus “idle” occupations such as hunting –Stereotype of “lazy” tribals, emphasis in literature about their leisure activities—dances, drinking More value placed on getting maximum output from land—lower extraction of resources by tribal groups seen as a problem Activities such as timber, mining, industrial farming come in conflict with tribes’ established hunting and pastoral grounds

12 Tribal Rebellions in North east Birsa Munda (L), Leader of a 19 th C. rebellion, Land cleared for tea plantaion (above)

13 The “Noble” Savage Romanticized view of “Tribal” groups such as Bhils popularized in late 19 th century Their hunting skills and “sportsmanship” admired Seen as more “manly” and warrior like than peasant (Martial races theory) New policies created to draft groups such as Afghans and Bhils into colonial Army –Attitude is still paternalistic, seen as brave, but child- like—i.e need colonial supervision

14 Baluchis, changing colonial views

15 Zones of conflict: Irrigation projects Extension of farming Tea Plantations Mining Timber Industry Tea/Coffee Plantations Timber

16 Influence of Colonial Attitudes on Elite Indian views Earlier history of interaction with these groups is modified, only negative aspects are remembered New religious reform movements attempt to “reclaim” tribal groups—concerns about missionary activities by Christian groups Values of new Nationalist groups and Hindu/Islamic reformers on sobriety, hard works, mainstream religious valuen out of sync with belief systems of nomadic and Adivasi groups Growing population pressure brings settled Indian society into greater conflict with these groups

17 Reminder: Student Led Discusion Need to post question sheets week before class presentation i.e. need to meet with me before that, in case you have questions Before meeting –Read texts, create open-ended questions that will spur discussion and analysis –Identify what class needs to know about subject matter or author to answer those questions –Don’t forget to add references to quest. Sheet (avoid websites, unless academic)

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