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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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“Litigation Is Our Last Resort”

Addressing Uncertainty, Undone Science, and Bias in Court to Assert Indigenous Rights

Bindu Panikkar

bureaucratic rulings and state classification terminologies; initiated their own citizen science mapping of local land use and norms to represent ontological multiplicities and local realities tied to practice; expanded the scope of knowledge construction

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Barak Kalir

accounted for with full responsibility. The state of (ir)responsibility: The making of unaccounted subjects The making of OOPSs illustrates how the process of state documenting cuts both ways: it provides the material for state classification and policies

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Dmitry V. Arzyutov and Sergei A. Kan

the North, the Commission for the Study of the Tribal Composition of the Population of the Borderlands of Russia [KIPS] and so on), defining the place of local communities in the state classifications. Benedict Anderson described this process as