ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Changing Dynamics of Tribal Societies in India

India’s Tribes: Unfolding Realities edited by Vinay Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, California, London and Singapore: SAGE Publications, 2021; pp 294, 1,295 (hardcover).


Tribes or indigenous peoples of India have been the focus of scho­larly attention, particularly in the fields of anthropology and sociology, for about a century. However, even before the inception of these disciplines, much has been written on tribes since the esta­blishment of the Asiatic Society of ­Bengal in 1784. Some of the most notable among them from the colonial period are Edward Tuite Dalton’s Descriptive Eth­­nology of Bengal (1872), Herbert Hope Risley’s Tribes and Castes of Bengal (1891), Edgar Thurston and K Ranga­chari’s Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909), Robert V Russell and R B Lal’s The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India (1916) and G S Ghurye’s The Aborigines—“So Called”—and Their Future (1943). Renowned British missio­nary-turned-anthropologist Verrier Elwin contributed immensely to tribal studies. Some of his pioneering works are The Baiga (1935), The Agaria (1942). The Aboriginals (1944), The Muria and Their Ghotul (1947), The Religion of an Indian Tribe (1955), India's North-East Frontier in the Nineteenth Century (1959), and his landmark, A Philosophy for NEFA (1957).

In the postcolonial era, some of the critical works that have advanced the sociological understanding of tribes are K S Singh’s (ed), The Tribal Situation in India (1972), Tribal Society in India: An Anthropo-historical Perspective (1985) and Virginius Xaxa’s State, Society and Tribes: Issues in Post-colonial India (2008). These works have established tribes as communities having their own diverse histories, epistemologies, languages, cultures, social practices and so on. They have also mar­ked tribes as a heterogeneous social group which is distinct from caste. Due to this distinction, tribes require a diff­erent approach in research and analysis than caste. In this regard, India’s Tribes: Unfolding Realities is an important ­contribution.

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Updated On : 23rd Aug, 2021
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