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Tribality, Property and the Long Making of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

Lecture by Bodhisattva Kar, University of Cape Town.

Styled as a set of protective mechanisms for the customary rights of certain “tribes” in the northeastern frontier, the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution has evolved into a site of several social contestations and a new source of unequal subcitizenship in the region. In this paper, I examine in detail the making of the Sixth Schedule on the eve of Indian independence in the shadow of the century-long history of informal business practices in the frontier. In a previous publication, I traced the emergence of a peculiar culture of contracts and leases in the region over the nineteenth century that shaped a particular structure of claim-making in the name of a tribe. This paper investigates the complexities that arose as this structure entered into a productive play with the logic of representative government introduced piecemeal in the area since the 1920s. In exploring the relationship between ethnicization of constituencies and demands of extractivism in the last three decades of the Raj, I try to understand the ways in which the protocols of “protection” came to redefine the meanings and mechanisms of tribal property.

Bodhisattva Kar teaches at the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town. His research is focused on the northeastern frontier of British India.

Photo: UCT

Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/2c958fxc

This event is part of the lecture series:
ZMO Colloquium Winter Semester 2021/22
Political Economies of Original Inhabitation