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Evading the State: Ethnicity in Northeast India through the Lens of James Scott
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
2013 (English)In: Asian Ethnology, ISSN 1882-6865, Vol. 72, no 2, 321-331 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses ethnicity and the state in Northeast India from the vantage point of James Scott’s influential works, especially his recent book The Art of Not Being Governed. Scott has over the years explored different aspects of peasant or subaltern modes of opposing dominance. The overall insistence is on the resistance and agency of the peasant. In the context of the hill societies that Scott deals with in the book, the entire societal design can be understood to be an act of resistance that aims at keeping the state away. As part of this, ethnic identities are portrayed as extremely fluid and remolded to serve political purposes. Scott’s notion of Zomia opens up a new way of thinking about Northeast India. Even so, as I argue, one still ends up thinking of the hills from the perspective of the valley and in so doing we miss aspects of the hill societies and ways of being in the world that cannot be reduced to a state-effect. If one looks more closely at these other aspects, more persistent forms of identification and a sense of belonging might come to the fore. Rather than just trying to escape from the state, people in the hills also hope for another, different, state.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture , 2013. Vol. 72, no 2, 321-331 p.
Keyword [en]
ethnicity, identity, India, James Scott, Zomia, resistance, the state
National Category
Social Anthropology
Research subject
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97913OAI: diva2:681250
Available from: 2013-12-19 Created: 2013-12-19 Last updated: 2013-12-19

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