Date of Degree

9-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Anthropology

Advisor

Jacqueline Nassy Brown

Committee Members

Marc Edelman

Julie Skurski

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Keywords

South Asia, critical agrarian studies, youth studies

Abstract

This work analyzes resource extraction and development as mutually constitutive logics of rule in India’s bauxite-rich, densely forested Niyamgiri Hills. Nestled in the southwestern corner of Odisha state, the region is marginal to both colonial and postcolonial orders, an inaccessible resource frontier. I discuss how Dongria Kondh and Kutia Kondh communities threatened with displacement by bauxite mining – two of India’s 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups – draw on historically oppositional subjectivities to re-envision relations of power between the state, the market and the commons.

Over the past decade, new forms of sociality borne out of Niyamgiri’s anti-mining social movement have reconfigured relations between hills and plains, forest and village, tribe and caste. I revisit the long histories of these categories themselves and how they crystallized into modes of knowledge that continue to inform legal struggles, protest repertoires and debates over rural infrastructure. Everyday resistance plays out against the backdrop of Maoist insurgency, escalating police repression and a generalized rural precariousness, shaping tribal youth’s life trajectories in indelible ways. Niyamgiri’s history of scholarly and governmental intervention also raises a singular question: why is India’s resource-rich tribal margin simultaneously marked for legal protection and erasure through enclosure?

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