Archive for March, 2011

“Tribal Sociology” in India in an Era of Globalization

Historically, Anthropology studied the primitive, tribal society where as Sociology as a discipline emerged to study the problems of modern, industrial society. In this sense, the sub-discipline of “tribal sociology” may sound oxymoron. However, the practice of Sociology in India has always been mixed up with Social Anthropology.  My objective in this paper is not to distinguish the differences between the two distinct disciplines but to discuss the significance of “tribal studies” in an era of globalization. It is argued that following the “tryst with destiny” and the “building of the temples of modern India” addresses of Nehru, understanding of the tribal society and its development became important objectives of the post-colonial development discourse. The importance has further intensified with the opening of the Indian economy to the global market. The entry of the private capital to the resource rich tribal societies has intensified debates on the political economy of dispossession, displacement and tribal rights. Added to this, the promises of ‘emancipation’ by Christian Missionaries and ‘representation’ by Hindu nationalists have also challenged the notion of ‘indigeneity’ of the tribal community. Taking these into account, this paper will discuss the discourse of tribal development in India in the nationalist as well as the neo-liberal framework.

Note: This was presented in a seminar on Sociology in 21st Century at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in February 2011.