Making insurgent citizenship in India’s Bhil heartland


This lecture focuses on the politics of Adivasi mobilization in western India – more specifically, in the Bhil heartland of western Madhya Pradesh. Drawing on my 2018 book Adivasis and the State, I will present an analysis of how collective action by Bhil Adivasis challenged relations of political subordination and articulated an imaginary of insurgent citizenship. Against the backdrop of a historical analysis of changing state-society relations, I trace how an emotional habitus of fear and resignation was transformed, giving way to an oppositional local rationality predicated on moral courage and reciprocal emotions. Building on this, I show how this local rationality in turn became a foundation for staking claims that transformed the meanings of governmental categories, legal frameworks, and universalizing vocabularies of democracy.

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