In early 2008, I witnessed a heated quarrel between Prasanta Das, Asit Majumdar, and Debi Bag near the Durgapur Expressway, the highway leading north from Kolkata, the state capital of West Bengal, India. Prasanta, Asit, and Debi belonged to the
Kenneth Bo Nielsen
Negotiated Spaces in India’s School Meal Program
Sony Pellissery, Sattwick Dey Biswas, and Biju Abraham
experience for millions of children in India. Introduced nationally in 1995, the school midday meal program still faces challenges in achieving quality and dignity in food service. This article examines three aspects of dignified meals in schools: how rights
Digital Archives and Memory Production
photographs from India and audiovisual material on the India-Pakistan partition, respectively. These two archives, named the Indian Memory Project and the 1947 Partition Archive (hereinafter referred to as IMP and 1947 PA, respectively), are particularly
Subaltern politics and insurgent citizenship in contemporary India
Alf Gunvald Nilsen
instructive point of departure for a critical investigation of subaltern politics in contemporary India. The context in question is one in which dominant and subaltern groups engage in complex processes of struggle, negotiation, and contention over the
Conversations in South India and the Anthropology of Ethics
in South India: the first between 1997 and 2003 among Muslim householders, and the second, ongoing from 2006, among Brahmin Hindu temple priests who are also householders. I thus bring South Asian Islamic understandings of charitable gifts and
Resources and Socio-cosmic Fields in Odisha, India
Odisha, India, 4 who have been successfully defending their land against massive political and business interests for more than a decade. When bauxite was discovered in the Niamgiri Mountains where the Dongria live, plans were made to exploit this raw
Consensus-Building, Party-less Politics and a Culturalist Critique of Elections in Northeast India
Jelle J. P. Wouters
a Chakhesang Naga hilltop village located in the tribal highlands of Nagaland in India’s ‘remote’ Northeast. 1 It was polling day for the 2013 Nagaland State Legislative Assembly elections, marking the final episode of weeks and months of frenzied
The controversy over rewriting history textbooks in India in 2000 not only revealed the divergent renditions of collective memory but also evoked decades of contention over self-representation and cultural identity. This article explores these "multiple" renderings of a "singular" past and contends the formation of "historical identities" by arguing that divergent use of reason and interpretation leads to a layered and uid Indian identity leaving it open for contestation. By situating the case of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb within the milieu from which textbook controversies emanate, the article suggests an alternative dimension for looking at the controversy—instead of the usual binary concept of "secular" versus "communal" history. At the root of the controversy is not merely politicization but also divergent perspectives of looking at the past and the resultant rethinking and reworking of dominant notions of it.
Religion and Education in Kerala, India
The anthropology of caste in India has conventionally rendered caste as a category of traditional religion, something that has been challenged by a historical anthropology of caste and its transformations under colonialism. Given this deconstruction of caste as tradition, how are we to approach its highly charged and contested presence within contemporary democratic politics in India? Examining the everyday institutional workings of secularism and democratic citizenship through the key institution of education, the article situates caste in relationship to secular modernity. In an analysis of the cultural politics of caste, religion, and secularism in a low-caste college in Kerala, India, that caters to the Ezhava caste community, the article argues for an understanding of caste as a fault line for the contested negotiations of tradition and modernity, the private and the public, the religious and the secular that mark contemporary cultural politics in India.
A view from inside India's ethnographic state
Venturing into an ethnography of government anthropologists themselves, this article interrogates the bureaucratic inner workings and actual agents of today's “ethnographic state." By engaging with the civil servants who verify India's Scheduled Tribes, I explore the politics of “tribal“ recognition from the inside out. This perspective lends timely insight into the logistical, political, and epistemological difficulties integral to the functioning-and current crisis-of India's affirmative action system. Weighing the demands of “tribal“ recognition through those that arguably know them best-government anthropologists themselves- this study examines the human dimension (and dilemmas) of the Indian state and its affirmative action system for Scheduled Tribes.