Studies on tribes range from colonial misrepresentation to critical processes of identity formulation against forces of dispossession. The most recent trend, however, is that of self-representation and search for adivasi epistemology. Though tribes of India are no longer considered a stagnant community, the more we know about them the more we feel the need to know them better. This means that one can establish a sort of dialogue between the multiple writings on tribes and still say something fresh. The collection of essays in this volume also tend to fit this trend; first, by telling something which already exists in the common parlance and second, by bringing some fresh reflections. India’s Tribes: Unfolding Realities is a collection of thirteen essays published in the journal Social Change over the past fifty years ever since the journal was started in 1971. The volume starts with an elaborate introduction by Vinay Kumar Srivastava, a well-known social anthropologist, where he makes several remarks about the studies on tribes. Noteworthy among those is that ‘today a tribe is more a political category than a cultural one’ and there is a growing need to understand their daily lives rather than the peculiar practices, habits, beliefs, and customs which have found a central place in academic descriptions.
February 2021, volume 45, No 2