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Amit Prakash

By Stuart Corbridge , Sarah Jewitt and Sanjay Kumar
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2004, pp. xiv 370, Rs. 645.00


The volume under review explores some aspects of environment, development and ethnicity in Jharkhand. While locating these issues in the age-old debate around authentic tribal versus diku dichotomy, the introduction offers a brief résumé of the political, social and economic background of Jharkhand. Also, a broadbrush picture of the colonial state’s administrative practices vis-à-vis the tribal people and the discourse of paternalist ‘protection’ is presented. The cultural foundations of identity and the reasons behind the compulsions for a more inclusive than exclusive identity have also been analysed.   The volume argues that key actors in the postcolonial state interacted with the changes in the historical and economic geography of the region to undermine the claims of identity put forth by the actors in the Jharkhand movement. This led to “forms of governmentality that produced various communities in Jharkhand as ‘Scheduled Communities’ (p. 7). It questions the robustness of the existing frameworks of development analysis (internal colonization or ‘extractive ideologies’ of conventional modernization) to explain the patterns of economic development and livelihood choices before the state’s administrators, funding agencies and citizens. However, some new studies which fill some of the gaps have not been examined by the authors. Perhaps, the slightly dated nature of the papers would account for this factor in an otherwise well-researched book.   Stuart Corbridge’s paper refutes the essentialism of the ‘tribalism’ and ‘tribal politics’ while analysing the implications of the rise and fall of Jharkhandi ethnoregionalism. He underlines the fact that there is internal differentiation and geographical dispersal within tribes which has important policy implications, particularly in Jharkhand where the tribes no longer dominate. While offering a thorough critique of models of ethnoregionalism dominant during the 1970s and 1980s (the sons of soil model, the internal colonialism model and perversity thesis), Corbridge underlines the diversity of tribal livelihood in Jharkhand by analysing the different conventions under which ‘tribal’ or Scheduled Tribal population were produced for Jharkhand by the different Census regimes. He questions the assumption of ethnic isolation which underlies official policy as well as the presumptions behind the irrationalist thesis of the tribal and the dominance of culture. Further, Corbridge argues that tribal population was weakened by this endeavour of classification, which also reflects on the factionalism in Jharkhandi politics.   Sarah Jewitt’s paper on forestry policies in colonial and postcolonial India locates the issue in Edward Said and his followers’ relativizing work ...

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