Adivasis have principally been studied in the context of rebellion, environmental history and the politics of identity. However, preoccupations with definitions and notions of identity, while important in themselves, tend to shift attention away from the inner lives of these communities. This book deals with different aspects of the histories of adivasi communities-from Rajasthan in the west to Bengal and Orissa in the east.
The essays in this book discuss a range of issues affecting the socio-economic and cultural life of adivasis and explore the long term continuities and discontinuities between different political regimes. They also reflect some of the new concerns that have come up relating to methodology and sources, historiography and colonial concerns, the impact of missionaries, gender issues, the agrarian situation, famines and migration.
Some of the issues addressed in this volume are the genesis and development of 'tribal' studies in India during the colonial period; the peasantization of adivasi groups and their assimilation within the Hindu caste fold as reflected in Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas; the work of the Protestant missions among the Santals of Chotanagpur; the social and ritual relations between the Bhils and the Rajput ruling dynasties of Dungarpur in southern Rajasthan; the aspect of agrarian change among the Hos of Singhbhum; the factors behind the migration from Chotanagpur, its nature and organization and its impact upon the adivasi village community; the question of women's agency in colonial Chotanagpur; and an exploration of land rights, witchcraft, employment patterns and how women challenged patriarchy in their everyday lives; and the impact of globalisation and liberalization upon adivasis in contemporary India.
The book will be of use to students and scholars of history, anthropology and sociology and also to policy-planners.