The Newsletter 53 Spring 2010

Indigenous identity: burden or liberation? Reflections on 'adivasi' politics in Kerala

Luisa Steur

With the rise of ‘adivasi’ (‘indigenous’ or ‘tribal’) movements in different parts of South Asia in the past two decades, the question of how to understand ‘adivasi identity’ has become hotly debated: is it a burden, inviting distorted stereotypical depictions of subaltern people, or is it a promising means toward their liberation? As Luisa Steur’s fieldwork on the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS), the main adivasi movement in Kerala, demonstrates, answers to this question can be of immediate political consequence.

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