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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Narratives of Rights: Codifying People and Land in Early Nineteenth-Century Nilgiris

Gunnel Cederlöf

Environment and History 8(2002): 319-362

This article has two aims. Firstly, it analyses how multi-faceted narratives of south Indian people as communities and their rights in land and resources were established in early European reports from the Nilgiris. These narratives were gradually accommodated in increasingly racial interpretations of Indian society from the 1860s onwards. These became established in the state-produced historiographies at the turn of the century, and have even been repeated by social scientists up to the present day. Secondly, it focuses upon how ethnologically-derived categories influenced the codification of people in the Nilgiris, and how this process interacted with the legal codification of peoples' access to land and natural resources.

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