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About us Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society Organization Staff PhD Research Comparative Study of Religion

Shilanjani Bhattacharyya

Socio-cultural dynamics of the resurgence of millets among Adivasi shifting cultivators in Odisha, India

Shilanjani Bhattacharyya completed a B.A. in Social Sciences and an M.A. in Women’s Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, and is currently a PhD student at the Faculty of Religion, Culture and Society. For her master’s research, Shilanjani studied the everyday experiences of spirituality among women ‘Bauls’ of Bengal in eastern India, who dissent against heteronormative orthodox religion and its associated discriminatory practices through songs and esoteric rituals. Shilanjani has also worked with the Tata Trusts and the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India. She was the District Lead for facilitating the implementation of the National Nutrition Mission, which tries to achieve favourable nutrition outcomes for maternal and child health.

As a joint PhD student with the University of Groningen and Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, Shilanjani hopes to explore the socio-cultural dynamics of the resurgence of ‘millets’ in Odisha, India by focusing on certain adivasi (indigenous) communities of shifting cultivators such as the Konds, who continue to engage with millets for subsistence, exchange, and ritual practices, despite its marked decline in the wider population. The project tries to ethnographically understand how millets are emerging as actors of continuity and change that contribute to significant cultural transformation among adivasi communities, especially in the realms of social organization, labour relations, cosmological ideas, and religious practices. Shilanjani is particularly interested in exploring how adivasi religious institutions get imbricated in the cultivation processes of millets and inflect adivasi worldviews in the face of various changes in the processes of production, distribution, and exchange of millets. The research interrogates how religious norms and practices are reflected in the everydayness of adivasi life, especially in their attempts to negotiate with and work through significant changes in state policy as well as broader socio-economic conditions in eastern India.

Last modified:27 June 2023 12.21 p.m.