We Were AdivasisAspiration in an Indian Scheduled Tribe

We Were AdivasisAspiration in an Indian Scheduled Tribe

Megan Moodie

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226252995

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


What are the horizons of hope and possibility for subaltern groups in contemporary India? We were adivasisis an ethnography of collective aspiration among a marginalized urban community known as the Dhanka in Jaipur City, Rajasthan, India. The Dhanka are a Scheduled Tribe, that is, a group recognized by the Constitution of India as original inhabitants (often referred to as “adivasis”) of the subcontinent who are entitled to affirmative action quotas in legislatures, educational institutions, and government employment by virtue of their unique cultural practices and in recognition of centuries of oppression at the hands of non-tribals. We were adivasis argues that the Dhanka, like other tribal communities in India, must undertake a great deal of imaginative work to occupy the tribal role through which they are recognized as worthy and needy of affirmative action benefits. This ethnography brings the reader into that imaginative work by exploring a range of settings, from intimate household interactions to tribal council meetings to historical narratives to group wedding festivals, and highlights what Dhanka women and men hope and strive for in each. It argues that collective aspiration is a highly gendered process requiring very different dreams and dispositions for men and women, both of which are essential to the community’s ability to invent and articulate alternative visions for the future and to move away from the stigma of adivasi-ness, a state that becomes tentatively relegated to the past: we were adivasis