Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Adivasis (Original Dwellers) "In the Way of"1 State-Corporate Development: Development Dispossession and Learning in Social Action for Land and Forests in India

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

Adivasis (Original Dwellers) "In the Way of"1 State-Corporate Development: Development Dispossession and Learning in Social Action for Land and Forests in India

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This paper traces the kinds of learning engendered through Adivasi trans-local and local subaltern social movement (SSM) action addressing state-corporate developmental collusions, state-caste interests and the resulting dispossession of Adivasis from land, forest and their ways of life given the economic liberalization drive to exploit resources in the rural hinterlands in India since 1991. The paper draws upon insights from the author's association with the Adivasi since 1992 and funded research into "Learning in Adivasi movements."2


RÉSUMÉ. Cet article dresse le portrait du genre d'apprentissages rendus possibles par les actions des mouvements sociaux locaux subalternes et inter-cités (SLS) des Adivasis s'attaquant aux collusions existant entre l'État et le milieu privé dans les initiatives de développement, les relations entre l'État et les castes suite à libéralisation économique survenue en 1991 et la force motrice qui en a résulté relativement à l'exploitation des ressources dans l'arrière-pays indien. Ce texte s'inspire des découvertes effectuées par l'auteur depuis les débuts de son association avec le peuple adivasi en 1992 et ses recherches financées sur les mouvements d'apprentissages adivasi.

Who is this government (e sarkar kee?) that lets the paper mills and business people (vyavasahi) take the longest bamboo and best wood for profit and then asks us, we Adivasi who depend on the forest for our lives, for royalty and taxes for small cuts for poles.... The ADEA (Adivasi movement organization) is here to fight collectively (sangram) to save (raksha) the forests and to protect our way of life. Our struggle is around food, land, water, forest and unity (khadyo, jamin, jalo, jangalo, o ekta.) Kondh woman member of the ADEA movement organization (Focus group notes, February, 2008)

We organize workshops and gatherings and have created a learning environment for all our people - I feel so happy and satisfied, I cannot tell you - we have been creating a political education around land, forest and water issues and debating courses of action. We are expanding in terms of participation and we need to keep generating more awareness on more issues that affect us... it is a political awareness, an adult education about society (samajik shiksha) - a different kind of schooling perhaps. ADEA movement organization representative/leader (Focus group notes, February, 2008)

The Adivasi-Dalit Ekta Abhijan (ADEA) is a movement3 organization of some 21,000 Adivasis and Dalits (literally means the "downtrodden," pejoratively referred to as "untouchable" caste groups) located in over 120 villages in the southern districts of the east coast state of Orissa, India. A movement organization that has become more politicized with each attempt to address the developmentalist, casteist and increasingly corporatized state (after India's adoption of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and neoliberalism, since 1991), the ADEA has matured as a political entity since germination around land and forest struggles in the early 1980s (known then under a different name). It is now poised to take a leading role in a trans-local politics that includes a network of 14 peasant, Adivasi, Dalit and fisher-folk organizations in the southern region of the state. As a contemporary movement formation, the ADEA draws its impetus from a history of resistance to British colonization (historical memory of Adivasi-Dalit communities) and the numerous collective struggles of these groups with state, market and caste interests in the post-independence period (since 1947) of national development and neoliberal globalization (since the early 1990s).

The emergence of the ADEA as a movement cannot be attributed to an epicentre, one central issue or particular occurrence (as in the case of, for example, an anti-dam movement at a particular juncture in time) but to a history of consistent colonial and "post-colonial" exploitation and marginalization that has warranted both a combination of daily struggles for dignity and survival and some critical struggles in relation to major dislocations around land and forest dispossession and caste-deprivations and assaults. …

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