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The social life of categories

Affirmative action and trajectories of the indigenous

Bengt G. Karlsson

In this article I examine the ways in which the term “indigenous peoples“ is reworked in a specific South Asian context. I focus on the new, hybrid category of “indigenous tribe“ in the Indian state of Meghalaya. I argue that we can think of the indigenous tribe category as a strategic conflation of two different regimes of rights or political assertions. The first relates to the existing nation-state framework for affirmative action as expressed in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, while the second relates to the emerging global framework for asserting the rights of indigenous peoples. While the benefits of asserting the status of indigenous tribes is obvious, for example, preventing other, nonindigenous tribes from owning land in the state, the long-term gains seems more doubtful. Both affirmative action programs and indigenous peoples frameworks are motivated by a moral imperative to redress historical injustices and contemporary social inequalities. To evoke them for other ends might eventually backfire. The larger point I seek to make, however, is that political categories tend to take on a life of their own, escaping their intended purposes and hence applied by people in novel and surprising ways.

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War Veterans and the Construction of Citizenship Categories

Nikkie Wiegink, Ralph Sprenkels, and Birgitte Refslund Sørensen

, including a focus on vernacular categories of war veterans, and how these are situated within historical, social, and political contexts. Combining the contributions to this special section, we can tease out three central elements that form an analytical

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The Death Throes of Sacrificed Chicken

Triggering Critical Reflexive Stances on Ritual Action in Togo

Marie Daugey

whom occupy special natural sites (groves, mountains, rocks, etc.). They belong to the same vernacular category called egoltmtye (pl. agoltma ), that is, earth divinities—a common category among societies of the Voltaïc area ( Fortes 1945 ; Goody

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The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

The Making of War Veterans in Postindependence Mozambique

Nikkie Wiegink

vernacular category in Mozambique. My research participants used desmobilizados militares , soldiers, combatentes , DF (referring to Destacamento Feminino—Female Detachment—a term originally used by Frelimo during the liberation struggle but later also used

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Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

vernacular categories) across Asian Buddhist (particularly colonial) contexts, under the influence of Western studies of ‘world religions’ ( Masuzawa 2005 ). Methodologically, drawing inspiration from prototype theory, as Benson Saler (1993) does with the