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The Neighborhood of GodsThe Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai$
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William Elison

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226494876

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226495064.001.0001

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Immanent Domains Exhibits and Evidence in the Forest

Immanent Domains Exhibits and Evidence in the Forest

(p.187) 6 Immanent Domains Exhibits and Evidence in the Forest
The Neighborhood of Gods

William Elison

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 6 is about the tribal inhabitants of wooded areas to the west of Filmistan, including the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the Film City production facility. A series of legal arguments presented before the Bombay High Court from 1995–2003 record the state's efforts to remove adivasis from this area, a struggle in which environmentalist interests clashed with tribal-rights advocates. In the ruling handed down in 2003, the right to remain in the forest was reserved to residents who could demonstrate before the authorities that they were “bona fide tribals.” This chapter develops some propositions about the visual mediation of space. If one index of tribal authenticity is a spiritual connection to natural space, that standard has been proving hard to imagine in a pakka form that others can recognize. As an alternative, some activists have begun looking to symbols of tribal culture already in public circulation as vehicles of empowerment. One site of intervention considered here is “Warli art,” a visual idiom that has moved from ritual contexts into metropolitan and even transnational art markets. Another source of current visual tropes defining the “tribal,” to uncanny effect, is the very film industry whose facilities have overrun Warli villages.

Keywords:   Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Film City, Warli, adivasi, Warli art, Bollywood, pakka, Bombay High Court, slums

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