The Demands of Recognition: State Anthropology and Ethnopolitics in Darjeeling

Since the British colonial period anthropology has been central to policy in India. But today, while the Indian state continues to use ethnography to govern, those who were the “objects” of study are harnessing disciplinary knowledge to redefine their communities, achieve greater prosperity, and secure political rights. In this groundbreaking study, Townsend Middleton tracks these newfound “lives” of anthropology. Offering simultaneous ethnographies of the people of Darjeeling’s quest for “tribal” status and the government anthropologists handling their claims, Middleton exposes how minorities areand are notrecognized for affirmative action and autonomy. We encounter communities putting on elaborate spectacles of sacrifice, exorcism, bows and arrows, and blood drinking to prove their “primitiveness” and “backwardness.” Conversely, we see government anthropologists struggle for the ethnographic truth as communities increasingly turn academic paradigms back upon the state. The Demands of Recognition offers a compelling look at the escalating politics of tribal recognition in India. At once ethnographic and historical, it chronicles how multicultural governance has motivated the people of Darjeeling to ethnologically redefine themselvesfrom Gorkha to tribal and back. But as these communities now know, not all forms of difference are legible in the eyes of the state. The Gorkhas’ search for recognition has only amplified these communities’ anxieties about who they areand who they must beif they are to attain the rights, autonomy, and belonging they desire.
Since the British colonial period anthropology has been central to policy in India. But today, while the Indian state continues to use ethnography to govern, those who were the "objects" of study are harnessing disciplinary knowledge to redefine their communities, achieve greater prosperity, and secure political rights.

In this groundbreaking study, Townsend Middleton tracks these newfound "lives" of anthropology. Offering simultaneous ethnographies of the people of Darjeeling’s quest for "tribal" status and the government anthropologists handling their claims, Middleton exposes how minorities are—and are not—recognized for affirmative action and autonomy. We encounter communities putting on elaborate spectacles of sacrifice, exorcism, bows and arrows, and blood drinking to prove their "primitiveness" and "backwardness." Conversely, we see government anthropologists struggle for the ethnographic truth as communities increasingly turn academic paradigms back upon the state.

The Demands of Recognition offers a compelling look at the escalating politics of tribal recognition in India. At once ethnographic and historical, it chronicles how multicultural governance has motivated the people of Darjeeling to ethnologically redefine themselves—from Gorkha to tribal and back. But as these communities now know, not all forms of difference are legible in the eyes of the state. The Gorkhas’ search for recognition has only amplified these communities’ anxieties about who they are—and who they must be—if they are to attain the rights, autonomy, and belonging they desire.

Title: The Demands of Recognition State Anthropology and Ethnopolitics in Darjeeling
Author:
ISBN: 0804796262,9780804796262
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Genre: Social Science / General
Date Published:
Pages: 298
Preview Link: Google Preview Link

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