February 25, 2014

Critical narratives of hope amongst the indigenous peoples of Jharkhand

It is almost summer, almost time to visit home—India, Jharkhand, Ranchi—again. And so here is a brief description of the project for which I received the Social Justice Research and Community Service Award from the CIIS Student Alliance:

Through this ongoing project, I want to draw attention to and help extend openings to critical moments and narratives of hope amongst the indigenous peoples (adivasis) of Jharkhand, India. These communities are engaged in struggles against state-promoted neocolonial and corporate capitalist forces to protect their forests, sacred places, and indigenous knowledges and ways of being. Parallel to and implicated in these struggles for rights, resources, and knowledge are the struggles of indigenous women, whose vulnerability has often made them easy targets for witchcraft accusations, torturing, and murder. Highlighting hope can highlight its potential to play a strategic, subversive, and transformative role in social justice movements; narratives of hope are radical in themselves in a time when the dominant narratives are those of despair and cynicism. As agents of change, the adivasis can (and do) themselves generate their own analysis and solutions; as someone implicated in the story of Jharkhand by virtue of being born there, I see this as a small contribution—offering—on my part.

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