Providing a critical ethnography of fi ve different tribal movements fi ghting against the mega-industrialization projects in Odisha, India, Negotiating Marginality: Confl icts over Tribal Development in India presents a thick description of the confrontation of the tribals to the authoritative forces of state domination. This confrontation, a counter-hegemonic discourse, is neither antagonistic to change nor anti to development, but rather in fact, the author argues, that the tribals are the subaltern citizens who aspire for not only more material and economic prosperity but also freedom – freedom from domination and deprivation. The book therefore seeks to answer one important question: how do the tribals appropriate marginality in their everyday lives in challenging domination and celebrating their desires, wishes, anticipations and material prosperity as well as in coping with the ruins of frustration and suffering.
Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork carried over a decade (2006-16), this book provides empirical evidences and conceptual explorations on the resistance of subaltern citizens against domination. The author challenges current theories of social movements which claim that a cultural critique of the ‘development’ paradigm is writ large in the political actions of those marginalized by ‘development’ – tribals who lived large in the political actions of those marginalized by ‘development’ – tribals who lived in harmony with nature, combining reverence for nature with the sustainable management of resources. On the other hand, questioning the established notion of ‘marginality as a problem’, the author re-visits ‘marginality’ as a possible site that nourishes the capacity of the tribals to resist and to imagine and create a new world. The complexity of tribal politics, then, cannot be reduced to an opposition between ‘development’ and ‘resistance’. The book therefore persuades us to reexamine the politics of representation within the ideology of progressive movements.
RAJAKISHOR MAHANA is an Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Coordinator of the Department of Tribal Legal Studies and Tribal Rights at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar. His recent articles are published in Poverty and Inequality in Middle Income Countries (Zed Books, 2016), Transforming Gender and Food Security in the Global South (Routledge, 2016) and Swaraj and the Reluctant State (Aakar Books, 2018). He is a co-author of Human Rights: Rhetorics and Practices (Kaveri Books, 2018).