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In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism, and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India [Kindle Edition]

Alpa Shah

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Book Description

In the Shadows of the State suggests that well-meaning indigenous rights and development claims and interventions may misrepresent and hurt the very people they intend to help. It is a powerful critique based on extensive ethnographic research in Jharkhand, a state in eastern India officially created in 2000. While the realization of an independent Jharkhand was the culmination of many years of local, regional, and transnational activism for the rights of the region’s culturally autonomous indigenous people, Alpa Shah argues that the activism unintentionally further marginalized the region’s poorest people. Drawing on a decade of ethnographic research in Jharkhand, she follows the everyday lives of some of the poorest villagers as they chase away protected wild elephants, try to cut down the forests they allegedly live in harmony with, maintain a healthy skepticism about the revival of the indigenous governance system, and seek to avoid the initial spread of an armed revolution of Maoist guerrillas who claim to represent them. Juxtaposing these experiences with the accounts of the village elites and the rhetoric of the urban indigenous-rights activists, Shah reveals a class dimension to the indigenous-rights movement, one easily lost in the cultural-based identity politics that the movement produces. In the Shadows of the State brings together ethnographic and theoretical analyses to show that the local use of global discourses of indigeneity often reinforces a class system that harms the poorest people.

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In the Shadows of the State is an important, original, thoughtful, and beautifully written book. I have no doubt that it will be considered the single most important account we have of state-society relations in Jharkhand; it is also a remarkably erudite and properly critical account of the production and use of indigeneity and development as social constructions that can contribute to the domination of poor rural Jharkhandis. Its significance ranges far beyond India. --Stuart Corbridge, co-author of Jharkhand: Environment, Development, Ethnicity

In the Shadows of the State is a fine and unusual study of indigenous politics, culture, and activism, which will be of interest to students of India as well as of the cultural politics of indigeneity elsewhere in the world. Alpa Shah provides a robust and non-sentimental ethnography of the realities and contradictions of tribal life, and a powerful critique of the practices of the state, NGOs, and the highly vocal middle-class activists who promote preservation of both natural resources and pristine tribal life. --Thomas Blom Hansen, co-editor of States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State

Alpa Shah s book is an engaged and exceptionally lively account of the intersection between the everyday state and the people of one of India s most marginalized Tribal areas. A major contribution to the regional literature, her sometimes counterintuitive, often sobering, but always compelling analysis richly deserves the attention of anyone interested in the politics of indigeneity and its uneasy relationship with class politics and with left-wing activism. Jonathan Parry, London School of Economics Presenting a sophisticated analysis of original empirical material based on sensitive long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Alpa Shah directly challenges existing frameworks in and beyond academic anthropology. She provides important new perspectives on indigenous governance, development, the anthropology of the state, corruption and local democracy, the politics of conservation, and environmental and Maoist movements. In the Shadows of the State demonstrates the value of critical ethnography; it is likely to be read as an exemplar. --David Mosse, author of Cultivating Development: An Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice

Throughout the book aspirations, desires, and frustrations are all expressed by respondents in ways that do not fit the ways tribal communities are viewed by many of their external supporters. This is uncomfortable territory for many scholars and activists, yet the author forces readers to rethink their own positions and the choices we all make in our work. This is an outstanding book of importance for its content and the challenges it sets out to its readers --Duncan McDuie-Ra, Asian Studies Review

In the Shadows of the State is a simple, engaging, and beautifully written book that makes a significant and original contribution to the global literature on the politics and practice of indigeneity, and to the rich body of critical geographical and anthropological research on tribal life and politics in Jharkhand and eastern India. It should be required reading for all scholars and activists committed to resolving the awkward relationship between indigeneity and indigence. --Haripriya Rangan, Journal of Asian Studies
<br[A] brilliant ethnography.... Shah has succeeded in bringing a place, its people and their social and political relations to life. It is a pleasure to read, and an example of the possibility of skillful and expressive writing immersed in the texture of everyday life to enhance academic analysis. --Colin McFarlane, Environment and Planning D, Society & Space
<br Throughout this fine book, Alpa Shah consistently stays close to her ethnography but is skillfully in conversation with apposite scholarly debates both in South Asian studies and in social anthropology...Accessibly written, as per her stated ambition, but also tightly argued, this book will stir up debate in anthropology and the study of contemporary India. --Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, American Anthropologist...
<br Shah stands apart, admirably, from both armchair academic scholarship as well as urban middle-class ventriloquists who speak in the name of the poor and marginal in contemporary India. Her wonderfully detailed ethnographic accounts reveal that those whom these academics and activists aim to represent often experience politics and articulate their interests in ways that do not dovetail with the agendas of sympathetic patrons."--Uday Chandra, The Journal of Peasant Studies
<br In the Shadows of the State would be an excellent teaching text in both graduate and undergraduate classrooms. . . . This ethnography should be widely read across the discipline. --Megan Moodie, American Ethnologist --Various

About the Author

Alpa Shah is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7664 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (12 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,430,564 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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