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“We didn’t go to the stage
nor were we called.
With a wave of the hand
we were shown our place.
There we sat
and were congratulated,
and “they”, standing on the stage
kept on telling us of our sorrows.
Our sorrows remained ours,
they never became theirs.”

~Waharu Sonavane, Adivasi poet from Maharashtra

 

Waharu’s words portray the reality of ongoing Adivasi movements and would probably resonate with each Adivasi struggle across the country. It depicts how, movements led by outsiders (read ‘savarnas’) further invisiblizes Adivasis in their own histories. The existing system that wrongly presumes that Adivasis need a voice and messiah to emancipate them, unfortunately such processes end up appropriating their spaces of articulation. The experiences of all the Adivasi communities as a victim of colonization has been same throughout the history and across the country. It is their rights over Jal, Jangal, Jameen, which are central to their identity and existence, are targeted by Colonial powers. Especially today under new globalized economy world, newer methods and policies of dominance are devised to appropriate and takeover rights. Adivasi resurgence movements against such forces have been part of Adivasi politics for centuries, seeking to protect and reaffirm their culture and identity.  However, the politics of knowledge production has been such that it has not accommodated insiders in producing their own knowledge and as a result it has represented and reproduced their distorted realities of resurgence.

Adivasi Resurgence (आदिवासी पुनरुत्थान) is an initiative, a platform to take forward the resurgence movement. It will provide a space for Adivasis to engage with their realities from different cultural locations, assert their identity and find methods of de-colonization. It will also be an attempt to produce knowledge through people’s subjective experiences and history. In the absence of written literature and accounts of our narratives produced by ourselves, our voices are largely absent in representing identity. It leaves spaces for distortions by outsiders when they write about us.   Outsider’s interpretation of Adivasi realities, our representation in books, movies, writings, have further stereotyped, marginalized and even colonize our realities. Such processes in long run dilutes our identity, claims to rights and hence threatens our existence.

As much as Adivasi’s have suffered Hindu colonization, they have also been victims of ‘Hindi’ colonization that has kept many of them aback in national front and away from accessing quality higher educational institutions which are run in English mediums or take part in current debates at equal footings. Their colonizers, appropriators of traditional/cultural knowledge, people occupying their spaces of articulation have been able to do so, because Adivasis were deliberately deprived of education in colonizer’s language. With this realization, Adivasi Resurgence is a step towards extending efforts put by our elders in past to take them beyond the territorial and linguistic boundaries. We encourage Adivasis from across the country to be part of this initiative, to build a community and to bridge our cultures and lives through our experiences of colonization.