Fieldwork in South Asia: Memories, Moments, and Experiences


Edited by: Sarit K. Chaudhuri & Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri

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    This book is dedicated to Prof. A.C. Bhagabati, Prof. T. Mibang, and Prof. T.B. Subba whose works and interactions have always inspired us.

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    List of Abbreviations

    AAAAmerican Anthropological Association
    ADCAdditional Deputy Commissioner
    ASIAnthropological Survey of India
    ATMAutomatic Teller Machine
    BLCCBunyad Literacy Community Council
    BSPPBurma Socialist Party Programme
    CIACentral Intelligence Agency
    CGICorrugated Galvanized Iron
    CNNCable News Network
    DUDADepartment of Underdeveloped Areas
    ESRCEconomic and Social Research Council
    FCCFacilitator of Community Conservation
    GBGaun Burrah
    GPGram Panchayat
    GPSGlobal Positioning System
    GTGrand Trunk
    Head GBVillage Headman
    IAYIndira Awaas Yojna
    ICSSRIndian Council of Social Science Research
    IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
    IIT/DIndian Institute of Technology, Delhi
    IIT/KIndian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
    IIT/KHIndian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
    ILOInternational Labour Organization
    ILPInner Line Permit
    IRPIndian Reserve Police
    ITInformation Technology
    KIAKachin Independence Army
    KIOKachin Independence Organization
    Marxist CPMCommunist Party of India
    MCAMMaster Craftsmen's Association of Mithila
    MGNREGSMahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
    MLAMember of Legislative Asssemby
    NAPNagaland Armed Police
    NEFANorth Eastern Frontier Agency
    NEHUNorth-Eastern Hill University
    NEPEDNagaland Environment Protection and Economic Development
    NGONon-governmental Organization
    NNCNaga National Council
    NREGSNational Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
    NSCNNational Socialist Council of Nagaland
    NSTNagaland State Transport
    PLAParticipatory Learning Analysis
    PRAParticipatory Rural Assessment
    PTGPrimitive Tribal Group
    PWDPublic Works Department
    RAPRestricted Area Permit
    RRARapid Rural Appraisal
    RTIRight to Information Act
    SCCISialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry
    SDOsubdivisional officer
    SDPTSialkot Dry Port Trust
    SLORCState Law and Order Restoration Council
    SOASSchool of Oriental and African Studies
    TMCTrinamul Congress
    TMOTelegraphic Money Order
    UNUnited Nations
    UNDPUnited Nations Development Programme
    UNICEFUnited Nations Children's Fund
    UTCsUmang Taleemi Centres


    This book of essays is a timely reminder of the importance and multifaceted depth and variety of anthropological fieldwork. Each essay evokes the experience of immersion in ‘other cultures’, physically and intellectually, through heart, mind, and spirit.

    Taken together, they emphasize the ethnographic relationship, and act as a counterpoise to the tendency, still strong in South Asian Anthropology, to ‘objectify’ the people and cultures that form our subjects of study, in the colonial-era mode of hierarchical knowledge.

    Modern anthropologists increasingly understand that ‘objective’ knowledge—in as much as this can be achieved—depends on subjective forms of knowledge, meaning an understanding of the wider social structure, including the ethnographer's place in this, and therefore also a high degree of self-knowledge.

    Knowledge about other cultures emerges through relationships. This means that understanding one's own relationships is vital, in a context where even the most traditional, marginalized culture exists now in a very wide, local, and globalized social structure of external relationships carrying influence and power.

    So this is, above all, a book about relationships—multi-layered relationships among people encountered in the field, the ethnographic relationship itself, with all its personal raw edges, as well as relationship with the land and even non-human realms (e.g., in Anungla Aier's and Ben Campbell's essays).

    Good listening is a prerequisite for productive fieldwork. In Mandy Sadan's words, about her time among Kachins in north Burma,

    I soon learned that asking questions only resulted in receiving answers; in contrast, listening, rather than speaking, following rather than leading, led to questions, answers, discussions, and lines of thought that could not be anticipated, opening up areas of knowledge and learning that were much more vital and penetrating.

    One way of understanding the emergence of post-colonial, self-reflexive anthropology is a journey towards ‘objects of study’ becoming subjects, able to articulate multiple viewpoints through the medium of and alongside the work of an anthropologist.

    The richness and variety of viewpoints displayed in the following pages is hard to exaggerate, including several authors who emphasize the difference between doing fieldwork in a foreign country and doing it in one's own—which can be just as foreign an experience—witness Ali Khan's sensitivity to the intrusiveness of anthropological questioning in rural/industrial Pakistan, with emphasis on ‘maintaining naiveté’ and deconstructing the rhetoric of foreign aid and government policy.

    Almost every essay touches on uncomfortable questions of unequal power, violence—most disturbingly in Debojyoti Das’ personal experience of armed attack in remotest Nagaland, and even of ‘the invention of tradition’—for example, Ellen Bal among Garos and A.C. Sinha on the sad shadow of ethnic cleansing in Bhutan.

    But each essay also contains precious insight into the positive aspects of human societies in South Asia that many people look to anthropology for confirmation of—for example, the exceptional warmth in the accounts of Garo fieldwork by both Robbins Burling and Erik de Maaker, and the continuities in the midst of globalizing change, or Campbell's emphasis from among the Tamang in Nepal of ‘the value that non-anthropologists can derive from ethnographic knowledge’, especially in rethinking human relationships with land and food.

    Content-wise there is a welcome emphasis here on India's north-east, along with bordering areas of Bangladesh and Burma/Myanmar, with two pieces on the Nagas, three on the Garos—in Bangladesh and Meghalaya—and one each in Bhutan, among the Riang tribe in Tripura, and among Kachins in North Burma. Other essays take us on fascinating journeys into Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Nicobar Islands, Ladakh, West Bengal in political transition, Harijan Madhubani painters in Bihar, and a Department of Anthropology in Kolkata, ending with a deep-delving dialogue between Ganesh Devy and Daniel Rycroft questioning Adivasi field-studies and identity.

    The editors’ emphasis on vast differences in social constructions of reality, along with shifting ethnographic conventions, sets the scene in the opening essay, while Arjun Guneratne reminds us how anthropology is often characterized as ‘the art of making the strange familiar and the familiar strange’.

    But what if we have accepted too readily the marginalized place anthropologists tend to accept for themselves? Actually, in terms of what the ethnographic relationship has taught other professions, and how anthropology has helped reveal different cultures to each other, if not to themselves, our discipline has had a major influence on how people think. But not yet nearly as much as it could!

    When one of my main teachers, J.P.S. Uberoi, asked once in a memorable lecture in London—Why do anthropologists still tend to study mainly marginal groups and people with much less power than themselves? Why don't they study groups of equal, or even superior social status?—this prised open a major set of possibilities, which has inspired my work ever since—a potentiality for anthropology to play a much larger role in analysing the power structures and systems of values and beliefs that characterize modern mainstream societies, from an independent position that maintains an overview of the vast differences and possibilities of human societies.

    What we understand about a society we live in for fieldwork may make us an ‘expert’ in that culture—however limited we may know our expertise to be! But actually, potentially, we learn even more from the people we relate with there about our own culture, and if we can tap into this, and into marginalized cultures’ knowledge about mainstream society—often from very bitter experience of how it has treated them—anthropology can give the world what many people look to it for: insight into how to deconstruct corrupt power structures and demonstrate community that works.

    The marginalized groups whose realities are opened to view here show many ways of being, sharing, relating, economizing, … that the world's policy-makers would do well if they start to listen to; and anthropologists should not be shy of seeking fresh ways to help people open their minds to possibilities outside today's perennial media-feed, suggesting that gentler, more harmonious ways of being human actually do exist, in plenty.

    FelixPadel, Eminent anthropologist and activist who studied in Oxford and Delhi School of Economics and also remained affiliated to University of Sussex, UK


    Our first anthropological fieldwork exposure was among the Totos of North Bengal, a small tribe located in a single village (called Totopara) on the bordering area between Bengal and Bhutan. Almost three decades back, our revered teacher, Hirendra Nath Chakrabarty, took the whole batch of undergraduate students of the University of Calcutta to that village. And later we came to know that late B.K. Roy Burman developed his concept of ‘bridge and buffer communities’ based on his doctoral research among the Totos who are today categorized as Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) as per the constitutional provision of the Government of India. Later on as postgraduate students of the Department of Anthropology of the same university, we had chances to work among the Konda Reddis and Savaras of Andhra Pradesh under the guidance of late P.K. Bhowmick. Both the teachers actually tried to teach us how to do fieldwork among the communities which were far away from our own physical location and some of whose languages were even unknown to us. Both our teachers taught us the art and craft of understanding ‘other culture’ but in two different ways. In contemporary methodological vocabulary all these attempts may be bracketed as looking for ‘exotic culture’ or ‘other culture’ given the remoteness of the habitat of those tribes or even contested constitutional tag of PTG attached to all these three tribes though for us it was a sincere effort to understand the diversity of the tribal world, which also contributed to the growth of human civilization.

    What is important in this brief retrospection is that every time we went to work or tried to engage with the communities on different researchable issues, we found that we need to move beyond the textual boundaries which a typical or even advanced methodological textbook usually prescribes. Every fieldwork generates new set of contextual questions and surfaces new challenges which we need to negotiate based on our experiential wisdom making fieldwork more a collective engagement with people and places. Beginners need to take care of methodological books but the moment one likes to grow as a professional or plans to undertake research, one has to look for the texts which emerged out of the actual field experiences as those writings can only open up new vistas to understand complexity of the issues involved in every fieldwork to locate the self or the other.

    In later course, being teachers in the university system, we encouraged students/researchers of different levels to introduce more with experience of eminent scholars and made them aware about the new waves of critiques related to poetics and politics of ethnographic representation. So we found students and research scholars were highly benefitted by reading such writings of M.N. Srinivas, T.N. Madan, T.N. Pandey, late B.K. Roy Burman, P.K. Mishra, Surajit Sinha, Yogesh Atal, Edward Jay, Baidyanath Saraswati, Meenakshi Thapan, Vinay Srivastava, Kirin Narayan, and many more eminent scholars who largely shared their dense field memories and experiences in the context of India.

    This has actually fuelled in us an idea of a book which will not be confined to the field narratives from India rather it would encompass a wider region called South Asia by bringing many diverse experiences of scholars together. Fortunately, we have got the chance to discuss this idea with many scholars from India and abroad and immediately received huge insights and even instant offer to extend support in the form of contributing essays. We prepared a concept note and circulated the same to many possible and potential contributors whom we knew personally or were introduced by others. This process we had initiated almost three years back with a plan that this volume may see the light of the day by the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. In the process we missed some eminent anthropologists who were preoccupied with responsibilities but each of them appreciated our attempt. Most of such messages are still in our mailbox sent by scholars such as Ralph Nicholas, William Sax, Philippe Ramirez, Nadim Omar, Fabrizio Ferrari, Chas Mckhann, Bernard Bate, Ashley South, Sumit Jain, and late Anjan Ghosh. We are greatly indebted to T.B. Subba who introduced us to Arjun Guneratne and Ben Campbell, having long experience of working in Sri Lanka and Nepal. We are grateful to University Florence Press for giving permission to reprint Guneratne's revised essay originally published in the book The Anthropologist and the Native: Essays for Gananath Obeyesekere, which was edited by H.L. Seneviratne in 2009. When we approached Robbins Burling (whom we address as Rob) to republish his essay on Return to Rengsanggri, he immediately agreed and it was again T.B. Subba, the then editor of North-Eastern Hill University, Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, who gave us immediate permission for the same.

    We wanted to ensure that this volume contains a blend of well-known senior scholars and upcoming younger scholars who have made a significant landmark in their own ways. Naturally, along with persons, such as Robbins Burling, Arjun Guneratne, Bell Campbell, A.C. Sinha, Vijoy Sahay, G. Devy, Daniel Rycroft, Ellen Bal, Ali Khan, Erik de Maaker, and Gautam Bera, we have essays written by Mandy Sadan, Bhaskar Chakrabarti, Arnab Das, Debojyoti Das, Anungla Aier, Suman Nath, Neel Rekha, and Abeer Gupta. We must disclose the fact that Abeer became part of our academic venture very recently. His presentation in a recent international seminar on transborder communities and culture in Asia was highly impressive and incidentally we were looking for someone who could share experience of working among the people of Leh and Ladakh as the reviewer suggested. He gracefully accepted our offer to contribute an essay. Finally when we sent the Author's Approval Form of SAGE to all our writers, we received a mail from Saiful Islam of University of Dhaka that because of prolonged delay he had published his paper in a journal. We are fully sympathetic to his necessity as a young scholar. But that was the only essay on Bangladesh and hardly 15 days remained with us to deliver the final manuscript to the commissioning person of SAGE. Thankfully it was Ellen Bal of University of Amsterdam who came to our rescue with a valuable essay within the scheduled time frame on the Garos of Bangladesh for which she is known all over the academic world by sacrificing her academic break from her extremely tight schedule. Special thanks to our friend Ala Uddin, an Anthropologist at the University of Chittagong, who took special initiative so that we could have another valuable essay on the Mundas of Bangladesh by a scholar from University of Dhaka but because of space constraints we could not incorporate the same. For similar reason we missed Rycroft's second valuable essay.

    We like to place it in records that eventually, finalization of our manuscript got delayed because of an unprecedented incident in our academic institution but we would like to gratefully acknowledge all our contributors who stood with us and showed great patience to ensure that like modern ethnography, production of a book with scholars of such diverse nation-states has to be a collective engagement threaded with mutual trust and commitment.

    We must thank Sugata Ghosh, Rekha Natarajan, Sutapa Ghosh, Supriya Das, Vandana Gupta and other members (Radhika Haswani and Guneet Kaur) of SAGE Publications who tried to ensure that this book must see the light of the day. We have greatly benefitted from the comments of both internal and external reviewers on the basis of which we had to rework and focus on writing Introduction as well as reframing essays in the book. We could not cover all regions of India due to space constraints. However, we would like to deeply acknowledge the help extended by our friend, Debarshi Nath of Tezpur University for close reading of the Introduction chapter; Ratna Tayeng, and L.P. Munia—doctoral scholars of the Department of Anthropology, Rajiv Gandhi University, for helping us in finalizing documentation sections of various essays and Glossary. Special thanks to our friends as well as former and present colleagues of Rajiv Gandhi University, such as J.L. Dawar, Deepak Singh, P.K. Kuri, Vandana Upadhyay, Asima Ranjan Parhi, M. Hussain, Bodhisattava Kar, Arup Jyoti Saikia, and Vibha Joshi, for their help and inspiring words. Finally, we fondly like to place in record the name of our son, Purab Riddhi, who always took keen interest in all our academic engagements.

    Hope this book will gain wide attention among the scholars who value the strength of insights which field-based researchers can generate to understand the diverse realities of society and culture located within and across the region called South Asia.

    Sarit K.Chaudhuri
    Sucheta SenChaudhuri
  • Glossary

    AdivasiIndigenous people/tribe
    BagachasBangladesh Garo Students Organization
    Bakhu/KhoThe Bhutanese national dress for the male
    BarmiangDried fish
    BorakBamboo mats tied into cylindrical silos to hold
    potatoes or maize cobs
    CharninuohTemporary hut designed to keep bones and ashes
    CharpaisSimple string beds
    ChiringA magazine
    ChormoubailukhlaimoDeath ritual
    Chow mtouhRice beer
    ChuGaro rice beer
    DagarBeat the ceremonial drums
    DewarThe priest
    DhakaCarrying basket-loads of grain harvest
    DobashisasParticularly agricultural demonstrators and village-level workers
    Druk GyalpoThe king of Bhutan
    DzongFort, from administration in run
    DzongkhaThe national language of Bhutan
    Gajar ka halvaA dessert made of carrots and cream
    GewaMourning feast
    GhutkaBetel nut
    GuniaThe magicians
    HarijanThe people of God, for Dalits
    HohoLotha elders
    Hongha-motaiTwo stones
    HorsniPollution for closed group only
    HukJhum or slash and burn cultivation
    HukkaA smoking apparatus
    HulSantal rebillion
    JaenimazPrayer mats
    Jamabaju haLoose garment
    Jana andolanThe people's movement that forced King Birendra to restore parliamentary democracy to the country
    JhumSlash and burn cultivation
    JimidarThe chief revenue collector
    KachaNon-black topped
    KahsmangFuneral song
    Kali pujaWorship of Goddess Kali
    KanorphelLeh nutrition project
    KazisThe former Sikkimese aristocrats
    KhetoSettled cultivation
    KohabarWall paintings
    KothoiaukchaiPriest for the dead
    Kotli LoharanA village whose name meant literally ‘abode of the blacksmiths’
    KshatriyaHigh caste (warrior caste)
    KulfiLocally made ice-cream
    LaotaoWoman believed to be a spiritual person who mediates between the deceased and the afterworld
    Leng and romoAs contracted between women, or the term used for leng's wife-romo
    LhadenglubatibabelariFrom the time when people spoke with gods and spirits
    MadeshiA Tarai person descended from Indian immigrants who had arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries
    Mai shyaWater buffalo
    MaiyohmiFood for the deceased
    Manda jatisLower castes
    Mandi-rang-nichitiGaro newsletter
    Me shyaBeef
    MotaihaiaEvil spirit
    Naga shyaChicken
    NiamarodakbewalCustoms and culture
    NiamrakaCore principles
    NishiA teammate
    NuppashimmmWeternTamang with parodied accent
    PadayatraFoot march
    PahariHill people
    Panji-haroClan structure
    ParakaOrganization for publishing the Garo newsletter
    PohlaWhite cloth of the height of the deceased
    PullaoFood item made of rice and meat
    RamaThe Vaishnava Hindu deity
    Rangma-nawbaHuman soul
    Rani-hoodQueen hood
    RiwasaBamboo stick
    RusamphiSmall plant
    Shardiya navratraAnnual Durga puja festival
    SongsarekThe followers of the Garo community religion
    SufisMuslim saints
    SwadeshiGandhian self-reliance
    SwmangnuohTemporary memorial hut
    Talwaran MughlanSword of the Mughals
    Talwaran RajputanSword of the Rajputs
    TamanglenglabaWedding temple ceremony of nepalimitlaune
    TharukalyankarinisabhaTharu welfare association
    ToddyWhite stuff
    Trangteba-tewarHusband's younger brother
    TshongduNational assembly, the royal legislative body
    WangalaA Garo harvest festival
    YarkhandChinese Turkestan
    Yeh gari un ki haiThis car belongs to him/her
    ZamindariA system of fief, in which over-lords grant rent-free holdings to local notables

    About the Editors and Contributors


    Sarit K. Chaudhuri is an anthropologist working among the tribes of North-east India for the last 23 years. During 2003–2005 he was in SOAS, United Kingdom, as a postdoctoral fellow and worked for a collaborative project with SOAS, British Museum, CCRD, and Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh. He worked in An.S.I., Shillong, and for the last 18 years has been working at Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh. He is currently holding the post of professor and heading the Department of Anthropology. He has published 9 books and 52 papers in journals and books.

    Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri is an anthropologist and currently, as Associate Professor, heading the Centre for Indigenous Culture Studies in Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi. She has worked in An.S.I. for seven years and posted in Dehradun as well as Shillong. During 1999–2011 she worked in the Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies, Rajiv Gandhi University, and also worked as the Founder Director, Women Study and Research Centre in the same university. She has published three books and a good number of papers in journals and books.


    Anungla Aier is a Lecturer in Department of Anthropology, Kohima Science College, Nagaland University, Kohima. Before that he worked as a Director of the Women Studies Centre, Nagaland University. Her research interests include gender, oral traditions, and folklore; culture, ethnicity, and identity studies.

    Ellen Bal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. She received her PhD degree in 2000 from the Erasmus University Rotterdam along with her study of ethnogenesis and group formation processes in South Asia. Her recent book entitled They Ask If We Eat Frogs: Social Boundaries, Ethnic Categorisation and the Garo People of Bangladesh published in 2000. Her areas of research interest include: anthropology and history of identity formation, ethnicity, migration, transnationalism, Indigenous peoples, Indian diaspora, youth, and human security.

    Gautam Kumar Bera is associated with the Anthropological Survey of India for the last two decades. He has completed his Masters Degree in Anthropology with specialization in Social-cultural Anthropology and conducted doctoral research on problems of ethnicity. He is the recipient of National Scholarship for Advance Studies, University Gold Medal, Research Fellow Gold Medal (United States), and several other prestigious awards and honours. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, in 1992, and advisor to the Research Board of ABI, United States, in 1996. He is credited with the authorship and editorship of 30 books and 110 research publications.

    Robbins Burling is a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Michigan. He received his PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1958. Much of his work focuses on the linguistics and ethnology of tribal North-east India and Bangladesh, and of related areas further east in South-east Asia. He has been working since the 1950s (though with long interruptions) with the Garo people who are found in both North-east India and in Bangladesh. He has written extensively about both the culture of these people and their language.

    Ben Campbell is a social anthropologist, and teaches at the Department of Anthropology, Durham University. He has researched the impact of development and conservation projects on subsistence farming and cultural practice in the Nepal Himalayas. Some of his books include: Racialization, Ethnicity, Genes and the Re-invention of the Nation in Europe (2007) and Beyond Cultural Models of the Environment: Linking Subjectivities of Dwelling and Power (2010).

    Bhaskar Chakrabarti is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. He has research expertise on decentralization and local democracy. His fieldwork experience across different states in India has focused on the ways through which people in multiple social groups, the government, and NGOs attempt to manage resources. With a core competency in evaluation of policy and institutional environment towards management for implementation of development projects, Chakrabarti synthesizes knowledge from various disciplines to foster innovation in ‘people's participation’ as applied to practical challenges of development governance.

    Arnab Das is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calcutta, India. Apart from postgraduate course in Anthropology he also teaches postgraduate courses in Human Rights, Museology, and Human Resource Management. In two other universities of India he is a guest faculty of anthropology and Rural Development. He has supervised 10 doctoral dissertations. He is also the member of the Academic Committee of Anthropological Section in Asiatic Society, Kolkata. Besides participating in many national and international seminars and conferences he has published nearly 50 papers in national and international journals. His co-edited and contributed book is Human Rights and the Third World: Issues and Discourses (2012).

    Debojyoti Das has received his doctoral degree from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

    Erik de Maaker is a Researcher and Lecturer at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University in the Netherlands. He studied Anthropology in Amsterdam and Leiden and wrote a PhD dissertation that takes mortuary rituals as a starting point for an analysis of social structure and community in upland north-eastern India. His current research in South Asia focuses on the material and ritual dimensions of religious practices, linked to the politicization of ethnicity. de Maaker has published several articles in academic journals and edited volumes, and is preparing a monograph on the transformation of Garo social structure. He has also produced ethnographic films, such as the award winning Teyyam: The Annual Visit of the God Vishnumurti (Award for Excellence, American Anthropological Society, 1998).

    Ganesh Devy is the Founder Director of Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Baroda, and the Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh and was formerly professor of English at the M.S. University of Baroda. His work combines cultural campaigns for the conservation of threatened languages and human rights activism for Adivasis and nomadic communities in India. His publications include A Nomad Called Thief, After Amnesia, Of Many Heroes, and Indian Literary Criticism.

    Abeer Gupta is consulting with the National Museum Institute for their Intangible Cultural Heritage Documentation based on the UNESCO conventions in Ladakh and Jammu. He graduated from NID, Ahmedabad, and then worked as an executive producer of feature and director of documentary films. He completed his Masters in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, London, in 2008, and since then, has been working extensively in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, with oral histories, material cultures, and visual archives. His project ‘Material and Visual Culture of Islam in Ladakh’ was awarded a fellowship on Circulation of ‘Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres’ by the Cluster of Excellence—Asia and Europe in a Global Context, 2010, University of Heidelberg, Germany. Subsequently, the project was awarded the Early Career Filmmaker Fellowship, 2011, by Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS, for the film to document the oral history of the community.

    Arjun Guneratne is a Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1994. He is the author of Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal (2002), and editor of Culture and the Environment in the Himalaya (2010) and The Tarai: History, Society, Environment (2011). He was formerly the editor of Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies. He is currently working on a reader on the culture, politics, and history of Nepal.

    Ali Khan is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at LUMS. His research interests vary from labour issues, particularly child and bonded labour, to popular culture in Pakistan focusing particularly on cinema and sports. He has previously worked in Washington and in Islamabad for the World Bank and with the International Labour Organization. Ali Khan's book Representing Children: Power, Policy and the Discourse on Child Labour in the Football Manufacturing Industry of Pakistan was published in October 2007. A recent co-authored book on cricket and society in Pakistan entitled Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan has just been published. He is also the general editor for a series of books on Sociology and Anthropology in Pakistan. Ali Khan has an MPhil and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge in England.

    Suman Nath teaches Anthropology at Haldia Government College, West Bengal. He also delivers occasional courses and is pursuing PhD in Anthropology at the University of Calcutta. He has published articles in national and international journals on issues of water resources, local governance, and politics and development. He has been recently awarded a grant by the University Grants Commission, Government of India, to do research on politics and resource allocation.

    Neel Rekha is a senior fellow with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, working on a project titled, ‘Innovation and Tradition: Changing Visual Imagery in Mithila Paintings (1960–2010)’. She is currently working as a guest faculty at the Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi. She worked as a junior research fellow in the Department of History, Patna University from 1999 to 2004. She was also a visiting fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, from September 2007 to January 2009. She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters and also curated two exhibitions on Maithil art in Kolkata and Leeds.

    Daniel J. Rycroft is a Senior Lecturer of the Arts and Cultures of Asia at the School of World Art Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich. He specializes in South-Asian art and anthropological history. He took up this post in 2006, and has since co-founded the journal World Art. He works on numerous individual and collaborative research projects. Previously Rycroft held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, focusing on Subalternity and Visual Representation in India at the University of Sussex from 2003 to 2005. He is an editorial board member of Art History, and co-founder of the South-Asian Arts Group.

    Mandy Sadan is a Lecturer of the History of South-East Asia at SOAS, London University. Her main research interests relate to the ethnic conflict in Burma (Myanmar), with a particular focus on the northern Kachin region. She has also undertaken research in North-east India and Yunnan, and has been involved in research projects at Oxford University and SOAS on the material and visual cultures of Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. Her first major monograph is Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Border Worlds of Burma, published in 2013.

    Vijoy S. Sahay is a Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology, University of Allahabad. Sahay was awarded doctoral degree in Anthropology from Ranchi University, in 1979, for his fascinating research work in the Nicobar Archipelago. He is the author of 6 books and 27 articles so far. Besides participating in a number of national and international seminars and conferences, he was invited as a visiting fellow by the University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa, in 2004. He is also the editor-in-chief of the IBSS-listed international research journal, The Oriental Anthropologist. He has also been the member of several research and expert committees constituted by the Ministry of Forest and Environment and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, for the protection of environment and the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    A.C. Sinha is a Professor of Sociology. He taught at North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, and in various universities including of India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has a good number of published books on Sikkim, Bhutan, North-East India, and Forest History. His major publications include: Politics of Sikkim (1975), Bhutan: Ethnic Identity and Social Dilemma (1991, 1998), Hill Cities in Eastern Himalayas (1993), Historical Sociology of Eastern Himalayan Forests (1993), Bhutan: Tradition, Transition and Transformation (2001 and 2004), and The Nepalis in Northeast India (2004).

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