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’s words portray the reality of several ongoing Adivasi movements and would probably resonate with every Adivasi struggle across the country and world. It depicts how, movements led by outsiders (read ‘savarnas’) further invisiblises Adivasis in their own histories. The existing system wrongly presumes that Adivasis need a voice and messiah to emancipate them, and such processes end up appropriating their spaces of articulation. The experiences of all the Adivasi communities as a victim of colonisation 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, in the world of new globalised economy, 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 land, 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.
Adivasi Resurgence 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-colonisation and de-brahminisation. It will 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 our identity and voices. It leaves spaces for distortions by outsiders when they write about us. Outsider’s interpretation of Adivasis, their representation in books, movies, writings, have further stereotyped, marginalised and even colonised their realities. Such processes in the long run have diluted our identity, claims to rights and hence threatened our existence.
As much as Adivasi’s have suffered violence of Hinduism, they have also been subjugated by linguistic hegemony of Hindi. Denial of territorial autonomy and imposition of Hindi has led to destruction of indigenous knowledge systems and has been a hindrance towards access to quality education. Indigenous languages and English, therefore, in many ways, can be an emancipator in our struggle. The colonisers and appropriators of Adivasi traditional and cultural knowledge, and people occupying the spaces of articulation have been able to do so, because Adivasis have been historically denied access to state institutions and spaces of knowledge production. With this realization, Adivasi Resurgence is a step towards carrying forward the efforts of our ancestors in the past to take them beyond the territorial and linguistic boundaries. We invite Adivasis from across the country to be part of this initiative, to build a community and bridge our cultures and lives through our experiences of violence and resistance.