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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Environment, Ethnicity and History in Chotanagpur, India, 1850-1970

Vinita Damodaran

Environment and History 3(1997): 273-298

The paper has attempted to show the ways in which the recurring image of an older landscape has served as a powerful metaphor in Chotanagpur's resurgence. It directly fuelled protest movements in the late nineteenth century and was part of a new emotive language as a modern political idiom came to be developed by the Jharkhand parties in the twentieth century. The cultural revival signalled by the Janata Mukti Morcha in the 1970s found expression in the festival of the sacred grove which was to become one of the most important markers of Chotanagpuri identity and the site where larger and more powerful hegemonies were constituted, contested and transformed. The paper is also an illustration of the more general problem of historical research and demonstrates the ways in which a post-modern analysis of cultural categories such as ethnicity can be related to the old realities of power politics.

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