Adivasi women’s movements in Eastern India

14.06.2022 17:15 - 18:45

Sanjukta Das Gupta | Dipartimento Istituto Italiano di Studi Orientali, Sapienza Università di Roma

This paper traces the trajectory of the changing lives of Adivasi women of eastern and central India and analyses the myriad issues confronting Adivasi women today. In contemporary India Adivasi women figure among some of the most deprived of people living in the margins, much of their vulnerability arising from unequal access to resources, particularly their right to inherit paternal property, which is rooted in their socio-economic norms. British colonial rule, on the one hand, witnessed the increasing marginalization of tribal women with the weakening of the communal indigenous organizations which left them exposed to exploitation of the market forces. On the other hand, it also enabled the empowerment of a section of Adivasi women who asserted their right to inherit ancestral property. In contrast, in contemporary India, the politics of indigeneity have imposed new restrictions on Adivasi women’s bid to claim land rights. Hence the contemporary Adivasi women’s movement is deeply divided on political lines and is shaped by contradictory representations such as ‘mainstream’ perceptions and the communitarian identity that Adivasis wish to project.


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