Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Over onsFaculteit Godgeleerdheid en GodsdienstwetenschapOnderzoekCSRCAAssociate Fellows

Religion, Culture and Society of Indian “Tribal” (Adivasi) Communities

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Marine Carrin, anthropologist, is emeritus Director of Research (CNRS) at the Centre d’Anthropologie Sociale, Toulouse. Her work focuses mainly on Santal ritual and symbolism (La Fleur et l’Os :symbolisme et rituel chez les Santal, Paris, EHESS 1986, and Le Parler des Dieux, le discours ritual santal entre l’oral et l’écrit, Société d’Ethnologie, Nanterre, in press) She has also worked extensively on therapeutic cults (Enfants de la Déesse: prêtrise et dévotion féminine au Bengal, CNRS editions 1997: Managing distress (ed.), Manohar, Delhi 1999). She has worked on Santal texts from the colonial period (From Fire Rain to Rebellion Reasserting Identity through Narratives, edited and translated by P. Andersen, M. Carrin and S. Soren, Manohar, Delhi 2011). These texts result from the activity of Scandinavian missionaries, explored in A Peripheral Encounter, Santals, Missionaries and their Changing Worlds (with H.Tambs-Lyche, Manohar 2008). She has theorized adivasi resistance and empowerment, co-editing Tribus et Basses Castes: Resistance et Autonomie dans la société indienne, Purusartha, with Ch. Jaffrelot, 2002), People of the Jangal: Reformulating Identities and Adaptations in Crisis (with H. Tambs-Lyche, 2008) and Voices from the Periphery: Subalternity and Empowerment (with L. Guzy, Routledge, Delhi, 2012). Her recent articles deal with youth in middle India as interpreters of ethnobiological knowledge. She is currently writing a book on indigenous knowledge, where she argues that the threads of Santal knowledge revolve around two dimensions, the emergence of a historical consciousness and the feeling of a shared identity related to language. She has been working the introduction of an original script among the Santals. Today Santal and Mundari intellectuals use indigeneity as an argument to bring back the past in the present, to claim political change, and reframe their cultural heritage to contradict the bias in post-colonial historiography. She has co-edited with G. Toffin and Pralay Kanungo, The Politics of Ethnicity in India, Nepal and China (Delhi, Primus, in press). Contact: marinecarrin@hotmail.fr

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Berit Fuhrmann has recently submitted her PhD at the University of Münster, Germany. In her research she is dealing with the indigenous tribal population of India. Her area of regional specialisation is Northeast India where she conducted fieldwork among the Karow in Meghalaya. The Karow belong to the Khasi subgroups and inhabit the northern parts of the Khasi Hills. In her PhD project Berit Fuhrmann studied the socio-ritual system of the Karow and the cosmology, in which this system is embedded. Her particular focus was the question how the local ideas and practices have transformed under the influence of proselytization and which form of local Christianity has emerged from the process of Christian conversion. Her theoretical interests are kinship and gender, anthropology of religion (esp. indigenous cosmologies, religions and ritual systems), anthropology of Christianity, social and political anthropology (esp. theories of equality, anarchy and stateless societies) and the concept and politics of indigeneity. In addition to her academic work Berit Fuhrmann is active for the NGO Survival International that supports the land and human rights of indigenous and tribal people. Contact: berit.fuhrmann@googlemail.com

Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India
Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India

Christopher Gregory is Reader in Anthropology at the Australian National University. He has been conducting fieldwork on the North Bastar plateau of Chhattisgarh off and on since 1982. He carried out 13 months fieldwork in 1982-83 and has made 14 short trips back since then, the most recent being in April-May 2013. His initial work focussed on the periodic marketing system and the role of kinship and caste in the economic differentiation of merchants, many of whom are immigrants from other parts of India ( Savage Money 1997). His subsequent work has focussed on the Halbi-speaking indigenous people of Bastar. He has published articles on their kinship system and is writing up research on the rice harvest rituals. Lakshmi is the Goddess of Rice in Bastar and women called gurumai sing long oral epics (of around 30,000 lines) about her that are ritually enacted during the harvest season. Contact: chris.gregory@anu.edu.au

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Roland Hardenberg is head of the department of social and cultural anthropology, University of Tübingen, Germany. From 2001-2003 Roland Hardenberg conducted research among the Dongria Kond of the Rayagada District in Orissa. He focused on the annual buffalo sacrifices called meria or kodru parbo as well as on marriage relationships and social relations between these tribal people and their Dombo neighbors. In his publications he offers detailed analyses of ritual activities, social hierarchies, exchange relationships and socio-cosmic ideas of the Dongria Kond. His research resulted in several articles and a hitherto unpublished monograph entitled “Children of the Earth goddess: Sacrifice, Marriage and Society in the Highlands of Orissa.” Contact: hardenberg@gmx.de

Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India
Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India

Frank Heidemann is professor for social and cultural anthropology at the University of Munich since 1997. For his doctoral thesis on Indo-Sri Lankan Labour Migration and the Repatriation of up-country Tamils from Sri Lanka he spent two years in Tamil Nadu conducting research in archives and in villages. After working with these up-rooted landless labourers he focussed his post-doctoral research on the Nilgiri region. His habilitation was on the religious and political system of the Badaga, the farming community in this region. Since 2009 Heidemann is working on the Andaman Islands and conducted a conference on “Manifestations of History” in 2013. His fields of interest include the anthropology of religion, politics, migration, aesthetics as well as history and theory of anthropology. Among his books: Kanganies in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Tamil Recruiter-cum-Foremen in the nineteenth and twentieth century (Anacon 1992); Akka Bakka – Religion, Politik und duale Souveränität der Badaga in den Nilgiri Süd-Indiens (Münster Lit 2006); Ethnologie. Eine Einführung (Vandehoek & Ruprecht 2011). In 2013 he co-edited The Modern Anthropology of India (Routledge) with Peter Berger. Contact: Frank.Heidemann@lmu.de

Research cluster: Adivasi / Tibetan Religious Traditions
Research cluster: Adivasi / Tibetan Religious Traditions

Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Grinnell College. She holds a PhD in the cultural and religious history of Tibet, China and the Himalayas from Australian National University (2008), and is the author of The Social Life of Tibetan Biography: Textuality, Community and Authority in the Lineage of Tokden Shakya Shri(Lexington, 2014). Her research explores forms of Buddhist community, networks of cultural production and interpersonal relationships in the transnational border regions of China, Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, Northeast India and Ladakh, as well as other communities in the East and South Asian Himalayas through the methodological perspectives of history, religion, gender, literature, the comparative study of empire, material culture and media. She is currently working on several projects broadly related to local and translocal experiences and definitions of modernity, including a critical history of Tibetan-language public spheres, an exploration of women in global Buddhist modernist movements, and a survey of Bhutia language literature in Sikkim. She is also a member of the Eastern Himalaya Research Network, a group that aims to acknowledge the Eastern Himalayas as a key site in intersections of imperial modernity. Contact: ahtagchungdarpa@yahoo.co.nz

Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India
Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India

Erik de Maaker is a researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University in the Netherlands. He has specialized on South Asia, particularly the upland communities of its eastern borderlands. He is working on changing notion of relatedness and belonging, notably in religious contexts, and wrote a PhD that takes mortuary rituals as a starting point for an analysis of social change in upland Northeast India. Methodologically, the material and performative (ritual, celebration) dimensions of culture tend to be central to his research. This includes the redefinition and re-appreciation of ‘traditional’ cultural ideas and practices (‘heritage’), and their growing importance in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism. More recently, his research has come to encompass people’s relatedness to land, and the environment, and how access and use is contested between distinct claim holders such as local communities and the state. Research in the peripheries of post-colonial states has raised his interest in the growing importance of Asia’s borders, and he is one of the founders of the Asian Borderlands Research Network . Erik de Maaker is also a Visual Anthropologist, and produced several ethnographic films (such as the award winning ‘Teyyam, the Annual Visit of the God Vishnumurti’), as well as multimedia DVDs. For an overview of publications and films see: http://leidenuniv.academia.edu/ErikdeMaaker . Contact: emaaker@gmail.com

Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India
Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India

Robert Parkin has been interested in the so-called ‘tribes’ of India since the 1970s, when he wrote his doctoral thesis on kinship and marriage among Austroasiatic speakers, including the Munda peoples of eastern India. He lectures on tribes in an option course on South Asia (taught with colleagues), in which he also covers other topics on the anthropology of India, especially kinship. More recently, he has focused more on questions of identity among tribals and is also interested in their political and religious movements, both historically and at the present day. His main publications include The Munda of Central India; many chapters in his Perilous Transactions; ‘Reincarnation and Alternating Generation Equivalence in Middle India’ (Journal of Anthropological Research 1988); ‘Terminology and Alliance in India: Tribal Systems and the North-South Problem’ (Contributions to Indian Sociology 1990); ‘Proving “Indigenity”, Exploiting Modernity: Modalities of Identity Construction in Middle India’ (Anthropos 2000); and ‘Administrative Reform and its Consequences in the Tribal States of 2000 in India’ (forthcoming in Lithuanian Anthropology). Contact: robert.parkin@anthro.ox.ac.uk

Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India
Research Cluster: Adivasi / Anthropology of India

Georg Pfeffer is professor of anthropology (emeritus) at the Free University of Berlin. He did his research record on Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes in rural highland India. Since 1980 his frequent and far-reaching tours through the middle Indian highlands have had the purpose to locate the – known or unknown - indigenous owner-cultivator communities in Orissa and Jharkhand and clarify their symbiotic relationships with equally indigenous units providing crafts and credit. Initially, he spent three months in a Kuttia Kond village before contacting speakers of other Dravidian languages as well as those frequenting different Indo-European or Munda tongues. In the course of about 25 years of intermittent fieldwork his research focused on the comparative study of social structure in these anarchic communities, i.e. collective relationships regulated in the language of ritual and kinship. In his first specific project, he compared the indigenous relationship terminologies to discover a general ‘middle Indian structure’ lacking the descriptive nature of north Indian languages and being more complex than the simple two-line classificatory terminologies of south India. These results have encouraged him to propose affinal social orders named ‘negative prescription’ on a world-wide basis to complement the well-known ‘positive prescription’. His second specific research project is concerned with the ideological basis of secondary funerary rites in highland middle India. The results have been published in books and numerous articles and will feature in a forthcoming book on ‘kinship constitutions’. Contact: gpfeffer@gmx.com

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Felix Rau has been conducting field work in the Koraput Area of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh since 2002. His focus of research is the documentation and description of the Gorum language . Gorum is an endangered language spoken by the Gorum community, a Scheduled Tribe community also locally known as Parenga Poroja. He has worked on grammatical constructions and phenomena at the intersection of language and culture as well as on the relation of Gorum to the neighbouring tribal languages. He has also conducted field work on Desia Oriya (Adivasi Oriya), Gutob Gadaba, and Kuvi Kondh. More recently he has worked on the relationship of the Munda languages of India to the Austroasiatic languages spoken in South-East Asia. Contact: f.rau@uni-koeln.de

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Eva Reichel Eva Reichel's ongoing anthropological research focusses on the tribal societies of middle India, their value ideas as contrasting with those of Indian mainstream caste society, their oral history, and their secular and ritual everyday lives within and away from contemporary India. She is predominantly interested in the Ho, a tribal community that has settled mainly on the Chota Nagpur Plateau in the Indian union states of Jharkhand and Odisha. In the course of almost a decade she has been staying with them time and again and done fieldwork there only recently. Right now she is working on her Ph.D. thesis and tries to make sense of the data that she collected in participant observation among the Ho in Mayurbhanj/ Odisha and in the Chaibasa area of West Singhbhum/ Jharkhand. The following domains are those that she came to realize as constitutive of the Ho-ness and therefore they became her main areas of interest: kinship, personhood, rituals, land ownership and cultivation, conviviality, patron/clients relationships and Ho concepts of children and childhood.

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Raphael Rousseleau is Professor in Social Anthropology at the Religion, Culture and Modernity Institute (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, FTSR), in Lausanne University (Switzerland) and associate member of the Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) at the EHESS-CNRS, France. After a post-doctoral research project on the theory and practice of adivasi art (see Gradhiva 2009; and other publications in press), he worked for a global ERC Advanced Grant Research Project on the implementations of Indigenous Rights (SOGIP, directed by I. Bellier). In his work more generally he insists on the interdependency of religious and political aspects of life. In the past, he worked on the perception/construction of the ‘tribals’ as a category, and then adivasi or ‘aboriginals’, in colonial reports and independent India. His PhD thesis (Les créatures de Yama. Ethnohistoire d’une ‘tribu’ de l’Inde (Orissa), 2008) proposed also an ethno-historical reconstruction of the pre-colonial relations of such groups with the local society as well as the former Indian little kingdoms, particularly through politico-ritual ceremonies. Such works remain at the basis of his current projects dealing with contemporary adivasi elite discourses on their own identity and ‘traditions’, the aesthetic aspect of local cults, and the practical relations of the same social groups with their local environment. Contact: r_rousseleau@hotmail.com

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Sarbeswar Sahoo is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. He was Alexander von Humboldt Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, University of Erfurt, Germany. Dr. Sahoo received his PhD in Sociology from the National University of Singapore, and has also taught there as Teaching Assistant and as Visiting Fellow. He was also a Guest PhD at the Institute of Development Studies in Roskilde University, Denmark. Dr. Sahoo’s research interests revolve around issues related to the Adivasis (indigenous peoples) of India, particularly in the State of Rajasthan. He has recently published Civil Society and Democratization in India: Institutions, Ideologies and Interests (London: Routledge, 2013), which critically examines the role played by the state, the political society and the civil society in tribal development and democratization. Broadly, Dr. Sahoo’s current research looks at issues of identity politics, tribal development, Pentecostalism, religious conversion, anti-Christian violence, and Hindu nationalist politics in India. Contact: sarbeswar@hss.iitd.ac.in

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Uwe Skoda , Ph.D. is Associate Professor, South Asian Studies, at the Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark. Currently, he is working on transformations of kingship in a former princely state combining anthropological approaches with historical perspectives and a distinct regional focus on Odisha and Central-Eastern India. The project includes the relations between former rulers and Adivasi communities in the area. Starting from royal archives his research interests have increasingly shifted to photography and visual culture more generally, while his other research foci include political anthropology, specifically Indian domestic politics and Hindu-nationalism, as well as social organisation and kinship. He recently edited “Navigating Social Exclusion and Inclusion in Contemporary India and beyond” (2013, London: Anthem Press - edited together with Kenneth Bo Nielsen and Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger), and “Chronicles of the Royal Family of Bonai (Odisha)” (2013, Delhi: Manohar - co-edited with Rashmi Pramanik).

Contact: ostus@hum.au.dk

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Alpa Speffe hah is an Associate Professor - Reader in the Department of Anthropology at the LSE. Her research and writing focuses on poor and marginalised people in India and Nepal. She explores the processes of inequality people get caught in and the various ways in which they try to subvert them. She has lived for several years as an anthropologist amidst the people she writes about. Her first book, In the Shadows of the State, was on the indigenous rights and politics of Adivasis in Jharkhand, India. Shah is currently writing a book on India’s Naxalite or Maoist movement, a more than forty-year-old insurgency trying to seize power of the state to create a communist society. She has presented some of this research on BBC Radio 4. Shah is also leading the Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty, funded by major research grants from the ESRC and the EU. She read Geography at Cambridge, trained in Anthropology at the LSE, and taught anthropology at Goldsmiths until 2013 when she returned to the LSE. Contact: A.M.Shah@lse.ac.uk

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Christian Strümpell ’s main research interests are in the anthropology of labour and exchange, the anthropology of modernity, the state and law as well as social structures of class, caste and ‘tribe’, or more broadly speaking in an economic and political anthropology of Polanyian Great Transformations. He has conducted 16 months ethnographic research on social transformations around the establishment of a hydro-electric power plant in southern Odisha and since 2004 more than 30 months intermittent ethnographic research on adivasi industrial labourers in India’s Nehruvian steel town Rourkela in northwestern Odisha. In his research on Rourkela Christian Strümpell’s main focus is on how rapid industrialization transforms a regional society as well as how, simultaneously, the – especially adivasi – people in Rourkela experience, participate in and shape these transformations. Among his publications are one monograph, articles in Contributions to Indian Sociology (42:3, 2008), Economic and Political Weekly (43:19, 2008), and Citizenship Studies (15:3-4, 2011). He has also co-edited the volume Law against the State. Ethnographic Forays into Law’s Transformations (Cambridge University Press, 2012) as well as a special issue with Contributions to Indian Sociology (48:1, 2014). Contact: struempell@asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Tanka B. Subba is currently the Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University, a central university established by an Act of Indian Parliament in 2007. Prior to accepting the present responsibility he was a Professor of Anthropology at North-Eastern Hill University & Honorary Director of the Indian Council of Social Science Research in Shillong. At Shillong he edited two peer reviewed journals called The NEHU Journal and Man and Society. His also edited a textbook titled North-East India: A Handbook of Anthropology and another volume (edited with Nicolas Laine) titled Nature, Environment and Society, which were both published by Orient Blackswan (formerly Orient Longman) in 2012. He has also edited two books on Indian Nepalis and has recently submitted an edited ms titled Nepali/Gorkha Diaspora in Globalised Era for consideration of publication. Three of his recent articles, coauthored with Jelle Wouters, relate to politics of ethnography in Northeast India, restudy of Rampura ('The Remembered Village' of M.N. Srinivas), and the Indian face. He also wrote two autobiographical articles titled "Living the Nepali diaspora in India" and "From caste to tribe" of which the latter was written after his community became a scheduled tribe in Sikkim and West Bengal states of India in 2003. This article is included in the OUP Reader on Tribes in India (in press). He has also authored books on agrarian relations in the hills of Darjeeling, dynamics of Nepali society, Tibetan refugees, Gorkhaland movement, and politics of culture. Contact: tbsubba.shg@gmail.com

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Piers Vitebsky studied ancient and modern languages before becoming an anthropologist studying religion, psychology and ecology among indigenous peoples. He has lived for several years since the 1970s among the Austroasiatic-speaking “tribal” Sora (Saora, Savara) of Odisha (Orissa). His first monograph was Dialogues with the dead: the discussion of mortality among the Sora of eastern India (Cambridge and Delhi, 1993). A further book, Loving and forgetting: changing forms of loss and redemption in Tribal India (Chicago, in preparation) will explore the tensions between the shamanism of older Sora and the evangelical Christianity or fundamentalist Hinduism of their children. With the Sora elder Monosi Raika, he has written a volume of photographs and texts for young Sora (Indigenous knowledge: a handbook of Sora culture, Visakhapatnam 2011), the only work in Sora which is about their own families rather than about Jesus or Rama. Future plans include a dictionary of Sora idiom and poetics. He is also interested in the comparative study of minority peoples in large multi-ethnic states. Since 1986 he has studied nomadic reindeer herders in the Russian Arctic and his book Reindeer people: living with animals and spirits in Siberia (London and Boston 2005) won the Kiriyama Prize for Non-Fiction. He has also been involved in making documentary films. Contact: pv100@cam.ac.uk

Research Cluster: Adivasi
Research Cluster: Adivasi

Richard K. Wolf , Professor of Music and South Asian Studies at Harvard University, has written about classical, folk and tribal musical traditions, and on music in Islamic practices in India and Pakistan. Based on 8 years’ fieldwork, his published work addresses issues of language, emotion, poetics, and rhythm. His work has been funded by such institutions as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, The American Council of Learned Societies, The National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and Fulbright. He is editor of Theorizing the Local: Music, Practice, and Experience in South Asia and Beyond (2009) and forthcoming volumes on indigeneity in India (coedited with Frank Heidemann) and rhythm (coedited by Stephen Blum and Christopher Hasty). Wolf’s first book, The Black Cow's Footprint: Time, Space, and Music in the Lives of the Kotas of South India (2005&2006), received the Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr. Prize in the Humanities.  His second book, The Voice in the Drum: Music, language and emotion in Islamicate South Asia (2014 University of Illinois Press), is a hybrid work of musical scholarship in the form of a novel.  Wolf is also a concert performer on the South Indian vina (a long necked lute). Contact: rwolf@fas.harvard.edu

Laatst gewijzigd:07 november 2017 14:47