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Migrant Narratives in State-led Development

Mayuri Sengupta
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Mayuri Sengupta: School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Journal of South Asian Development, 2015, vol. 10, issue 1, 73-95

Abstract: Many state-led development policies in India are formulated for tribal communities who are deemed ‘backward’. The institutionalization of such ethnic categorizations through development policies reflects a tendency to homogenize communities (especially numerically small ones) who are either regarded as ‘backward’ resisters of development or as primitive victims of modernity. The experience of migrants is one way in which the impacts of development can be explored and this propensity to homogenize may be challenged. This article uses migrant narratives to understand how development is experienced by the Reang tribal community in Tripura (north-east India). The article presents two main arguments. First, migration ruptures conventional understanding of ‘community’ among the Reangs and is crucial in challenging the dominant notion of tribal communities as homogenous groups. The article argues that examining migration among Reangs reveals the growing internal divisions within this tribal community where state-led development is often experienced in ambivalent ways. Second, despite adopting development policies, tribal minorities continue to be perceived as ‘backward’ and ‘primitive’ by the dominant ethnic group, thus illustrating how stereotyped homogenous ethnic categorizations are created and reproduced in post-colonial India.

Keywords: Development; internal migration; ethnic minority; north-east India; Reang tribe (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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