Indigeneity and the Question of Collective Identity

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Apparao THAMMINAINA, National Institute of Technology, India
Evolutionary anthropologists consider the hunting-gathering mode of subsistence as the preliminary stage of human evolution. There are a few communities even today partly depend on the hunting-gathering mode of subsistence. Their interaction with “the other” and the interventions of the State and non-state agencies are major sources for their shift into other economic activities and territories. Such shift plays a catalytic role in the transition of identity which is often symbolically expressed in cultural and economic activities. But, indigenous peoples often assert on a common identity in the event of an external force which adversely affects their habitat or curtails their rights over the habitat. In such cases, the identity acts as a source of collective mobilization. The indigenous peoples of India often assert on collective identity in the times of need despite the scattered habitat arrangement in huge territories. At the same time, identity is not necessarily the homogeneity in all aspects of the culture. Its manifestations may vary according to the variety of social situations in which it is expressed. Multiple identities may emerge based on the categories within an ethnic group. This may result in the structural differences within an ethnic group over a period of time. In this context, this paper examines the sources of identity, circumstances of its expression and assertion and its transformation among the hunter-gatherer communities in contemporary India.