Cover of Resistance as Negotiation by Uday Chandra
Resistance as Negotiation
Making States and Tribes in the Margins of Modern India
Uday Chandra


June 2024
340 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503638112
Ebook ISBN: 9781503639157

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"Tribes" appear worldwide today as vestiges of a pre-modern past at odds with the workings of modern states. Acts of resistance and rebellion by groups designated as "tribal" have fascinated as well as perplexed administrators and scholars in South Asia and beyond. Tribal resistance and rebellion are held to be tragic yet heroic political acts by "subaltern" groups confronting omnipotent states. By contrast, this book draws on fifteen years of archival and ethnographic research to argue that statemaking is intertwined inextricably with the politics of tribal resistance in the margins of modern India.

Uday Chandra demonstrates how the modern Indian state and its tribal or adivasi subjects have made and remade each other throughout the colonial and postcolonial eras, historical processes of modern statemaking shaping and being shaped by myriad forms of resistance by tribal subjects. Accordingly, tribal resistance, whether peaceful or violent, is better understood vis-à-vis negotiations with the modern state, rather than its negation, over the past two centuries. How certain people and places came to be seen as "tribal" in modern India is, therefore, tied intimately to how "tribal" subjects remade their customs and community in the course of negotiations with colonial and postcolonial states. Ultimately, the empirical material unearthed in this book requires rethinking and rewriting the political history of modern India from its "tribal" margins.

About the author

Uday Chandra is Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Qatar.

"An illuminating and engaging longue durée account of everyday resistance and state-making in the Chotanagpur plateau of Jharkhand. This ambitious book takes on the tropes that have shaped the conventional understanding of the pasts and the present of peoples labeled as 'adivasi' or 'tribal' in India."

—Sanjib Baruah, Asian University for Women

"This theoretically ambitious historical ethnography neatly displaces many of the central analytic categories by which indigenous people have been seen by state officials, scholars, politicians, and development workers, portraying them instead as modern subjects who co-produce the state on its margins and who co-author its policies and projects. Expertly crisscrossing history, politics, anthropology, and sociology, this generative and controversial book will make enduring contributions to all of these disciplines. A magnificent achievement!"

—Akhil Gupta, University of California, Los Angeles