ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Governance and recognition struggle in Assam: Exploring the dynamics of ethnic identity formation in Northeast India.


Doley Hare Krishna - Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mandi, India


42 – Changing Contours of Legitimacy and Governance in India


 Drawing upon ethnographic data this paper tries to examine how the imperial governance practices have shaped ethnic subjectivities during the colonial period in Assam located in the north eastern region of India. Embedded within this practice was the classification of various ethnic groups into different administrative categories. Therefore, the paper attempts to examine how diverse groups are entangled in framing distinct ethnic identities while making claims for Scheduled Tribes status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. For many groups in this region, tribal identity have become the last resort to protect their socio-cultural and political rights within the multifarious society. Hence, the region has become a significant site for contestations, negotiations and interactions of various ethnic groups in the post-colonial period. Owing to such condition overlapping and hybrid identities have emerged amongst groups which increased the complexities of ethnic relationships. Therefore, we can see claims and assertions for recognition as tribe by marking their distinctiveness from one another. It can be located within the introduction of affirmative policies on ethnic line; a product of both the colonial and the post-colonial churning in India. Considering such imperatives, the paper argues that the current struggle for recognition as tribal identity have changed the nature of collective attachments in the region structured by the state to maintain legitimacy.