Author: Virginius Xaxa

Virginius Xaxa, formerly Professor at Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi, is currently visiting Professor at the Institute for Human Development (IHD), New Delhi. Prior to joining IHD, he was Professor of Eminence and Bharat Ratna Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Chair at Tezpur University (2016–2018). He was also Professor and Deputy Director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus (2011–2016). He taught Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi (1990–2011), and North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong (1978–1990). He obtained MA in Sociology from Pune University and Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur. He is the author of Economic Dualism and Structure of Class: A Study in Plantation and Peasant Settings in North Bengal (Cosmo, 1997) and State, Society and Tribes: Issues in Post-Colonial India (Pearson, 2008), co-author of Tea Plantation Labour in India (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 1996) and co-editor of Social Exclusion and Adverse Inclusion: Development and Deprivation of Adivasis in India (OUP, 2012), Work, Institutions and Sustainable Livelihood: Issues and Challenges of Transformation (Palgrave, 2017) and Employment and Labour Market in North-East India: Interrogating Structural Changes (Routledge, 2019). He was also the Chairman of the High Level Committee on Socio-Economic, Health and Educational Status of Tribal Communities of India, Government of India (2014).

September 27, 2021 /

When I began reading anthropological literature I felt uneasy and troubled by the way in which it was written. It was greatly problematic and I stated to think how one should do it differently. One of the problems with tribal studies is the concept itself and how tribes are looked at in a colonial social structure. The idea of a tribe was represented as primitive, savages and inferior beings which continues even today. Anthropologists did try to do away with this idea but still categorised tribes as a type of society which has very little division of labour, absence of complexities and reading and writing. Anthropology looked at the kind of transformation taking place as if they are becoming peasants, caste or socially heterogeneous. In that whole process the erosion of identity occurred.