ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Reimagining the Exhibited Nation: Tribal Museums as sites of Decolonization


Noora Fathima - University of Hyderabad, Sociology, Hyderabad, India


38 – Adivasis and Adivasi Studies


As a group of indigenous communities with distinct socio cultural traditions,Adivasis in India have been subject to ethnographic gaze,paintings,and photography since colonial era.After independence,postcolonial state reinvented the nation’s legacy,privileging cultural politics, which led to birth of tribal museums.Tribal museums,albeit emerging as a mode of visibility for Adivasis, also became key institutions that essentialized identity politics intending to preserve their distinct historical traditions.The nexus between the Adivasi communities and their representation in national heritage needs revision even today.In the context of the curation of the “Tribal Freedom Fighters’ Museums”,the paper traverses the complexities of museumising practices in making a nation.Based on the field observations and interviews with the curators at the revamped museum in Telangana following the state formation in 2014,paper highlights the tension between representations in tribal museums and Adivasi communities themselves under a larger framework of postcolonial state and the hierarchical ordering of society.Extending the arguments of case study,paper engages with the question of how these spaces can let Adivasis to reframe their history,identity,and justice.Outlining the intersections of Adivasi history,museology,and nation-state,paper invites the optic of Adivasi studies to heritage complexes to bring forth discussions on indigenous perspectives and reconcile different knowledge systems.