ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Mimetic Rivalry and (de) legitimizing Adivasi Agency in Chhattisgarh


Kaushik Vidushi - Dublin City Universiy, Law and Government, Dublin, Ireland


42 – Changing Contours of Legitimacy and Governance in India


 The paper seeks to initiate and introduce the everyday acts of (de)legitimizing by both the state and the non-state towards the Adivasi community in the context of violent armed conflict between the state and the Maoists with specific context of North Bastar in Chhattisgarh, India. Based on participant observations, interviews and sharing of space, the paper, with citing of two events/incidents, would attempt to “flatten the binary between theory and field.”

The two incidents in focus, center around the protests organised by the Adivasi community in relation to construction of police camps in the vicinity of their villages. And the second incident is based on recounting the surrender of a female Maoist guerrilla and her subsequent journey as a state police official involved in the counterinsurgency operations. The paper attempts to illustrate that while seeking revolutionary emancipation through insurgent governance and control, the Maoists themselves imitate or mimic the state through acts of legitimisng/delegitimising. Complimenting the fieldwork, the paper would use Maoist literature (in forms of local circulars and pamphlets distributed in the field and the online repository of Maoist literature), the paper would critically assess the binaries of ‘loyalist/traitor’ or ‘nationalist/informer’ that are used by both, the state officials, and the Maoist leadership.

Borrowing from Girard’s concept of ‘mimetic rivalry’ would help in moving the analysis beyond a state-driven