SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Devalle, Susana Beatriz Cristina (1989) Discourses of ethnicity : The adivasis of Jharkhand. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (20MB) | Preview


This dissertation examines the relationship between historical structure, human experience and social consciousness in the constitution of ethnicity. The area of study is the Jharkhand region of the state of Bihar in Northern India. The development of an ethnic consciousness among the adivasis (original inhabitants) of Jharkhand is an integral part of the history of British colonialism and of the modem Indian nation-state. This history explains the incorporation of the adivasis into the dominant order and the diverse modes of indigenous resistance to it. Only through such a historical analysis can we understand the present salience of ethnicity and the dialectics of cultural struggle in the Jharkhand region. In recent times, the changing modes of Jharkhand's collective identity have resulted in two projects: one is termed the reformist movement in this thesis and the other the grass-roots movement. The former has formulated issues purely in ethnic terms, concentrating on the demand for a separate state and promoting cultural revivalism. In contrast, the grass-roots movement was far more concerned with issues of class inequalities, ownership and distribution of resources, and the concentration of power in the hands of the state. To attain its objectives this movement sought a regional/class alliance and defined Jharkhand identity by fusing class and ethnicity. The core of this thesis examines these changing dimensions of ethnicity and the ways that different social sectors seek to formulate the problem. In locating the objectification of ethnicity within a historical framework, the thesis discusses basic issues concerning class, culture, social classification, modes of resistance and the forging of collective identities among subordinate groups, thus seeking to bridge the theoretical gap between social anthropology and social history, in the hope of contributing towards an interdisciplinary social analysis.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item