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The local translation of global indigeneity: A case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

We are still fighting for our identity as we are no-one in Bangladesh 
because its Constitution doesn't have any space for Indigenous People. 
How could we demand the rights of Indigenous People unless our identity 
is constitutionally settled in the structure of the state? Of course, 
we always keep in touch with regional and international Indigenous 
activists to strengthen our movement and to legitimate our demands with 
international support. Most importantly, we have translated the global 
ideal of indigeneity into the local Indigenous movement which, in the 
Chittagong Hill Tracts, is now the struggle for the full implementation 
of the Peace Accord. This is how we make sense of indigeneity in the 
Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Sarajjoti Chakma, Bangladesh Adivasi (Indigenous) Peoples Forum, 
Chittagong Division (1)

The statement by Sarajjoti Chakma, the convenor of the Chittagong division of the Bangladesh Adivasi (Indigenous) Peoples Forum, above reveals the dynamics of Indigenous activism and its local manifestation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, since it reflects how the idea of indigeneity as an active political force is installed locally and how, and why, it is connected with regional and global Indigenous activism. (2) Though there are some differences in the agendas of lowland and highland Indigenous Peoples, broadly speaking, Indigenous activism in Bangladesh is still centred on the politics of 'identity' or what I call the 'politics of naming'. Indeed, every year Indigenous Peoples celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP), hoisting placards saying: 'We demand constitutional recognition as Indigenous Peoples'; 'We are not Bengalis, we are Indigenous Peoples'; 'We are Bangladeshis by citizenship but we are Indigenous Peoples by our own nationhood'; and 'We want a separate ethnic identity as Indigenous Peoples'. In fact, in Bangladesh the majoritarian framework of nation-building and state formation based on Bengali nationalism has created serious identity issues for non-Bengali Indigenous Peoples, whose activists and organisations are still struggling for legal recognition.

Thus, the idea of indigeneity, the identity of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous activism in Bangladesh are intimately intertwined, and this has some ethnohistorical and regional implications particularly in the CHT (comprised of the Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari hill districts), which is home to 11 Indigenous highland groups and lies adjacent to northeastern India and western Myanmar (Burma). Indigenous CHT activists have meanwhile translated the idea of indigeneity and installed the spirit of Indigenous activism into a local rights movement and have reshaped the spectrum of the movement to reinforce their demands. This article uncovers the dynamics of how the transnational idea of indigeneity has been nationally installed and locally translated within the context of the local ethnohistory of an Indigenous movement that stemmed from local--state relations. Therefore, the idea of indigeneity here, in Francesca Merlan's words, is at once local and global because it is globally circulated but locally shaped, as well as globally charged but locally framed. (3) Let me begin with my experience on a particular day.

It was 9 August 2015, and I was invited, as an anthropologist and a researcher on Indigenous Peoples, to attend and give a talk at a big public gathering in Rangamati organised by Indigenous activists to celebrate the IDWIP and also to press their demands for constitutional recognition and the full implementation of the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Treaty or Peace Accord, widely referred to as the 'Peace Accord' (discussed later in this article). Hundreds of participants came from various parts of the Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari hill districts. The atmosphere seemed more heated than festive, and I observed that the gathering was politically charged around issues regarding the state's role in dealing with the Peace Accord as well as the military's penetration into everyday Indigenous life, which was causing widespread grievance. Before I delivered my talk, many hill Indigenous political activists delivered their speeches, which were well informed, well articulated, and very forceful within the 'rights and entitlement of Indigenous Peoples' framework of global Indigenous activism. The IDWIP celebration turned into a politically charged Indigenous demonstration advocating for the full implementation of the Peace Accord.

This event showed me that the IDWIP has become, apart from a celebration of indigeneity, a day for expressing demands, claims and grievances before the state. Though Indigenous activists celebrate the day with colourful processions, they also use it as a meaningful space for politically charged demonstrations. That year, some leading print media outlets sympathetic to Indigenous Peoples published special supplements and some electronic media broadcast special programmes in celebration of the day. Indigenous activist groups and rights organisations in various districts organised day-long discussions, as well as processions and cultural programmes. Every year '9 August' turns into a special day of festivities, of celebration and demonstration by and for the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh. Indigenous Peoples of the CHT observe the day to express their demands for the full implementation of the Peace Accord and constitutional recognition as Indigenous Peoples, which shows how global indigeneity fuels local activism and strengthens the latter's claims vis-a-vis the state.

Scholars such as Karen Fox and Kaushik Ghosh have shown that the idea of indigeneity as a form of transnational activism (4) and as a politically active force (5) has different meanings at different layers of society, depending on local--societal dynamics and on the ways it is locally installed as a trans-local discourse in the framework of cultural politics and 'state space'. (6)

This article has three specific objectives: first, it critically examines popular knowledge about and practices of 'indigeneity' in Bangladesh, in order to recast the historical, political, and philosophical underpinnings of the local Indigenous movement in relation to global activism; second, it uses empirical data to illustrate how the idea of indigeneity is perceived, grounded and dealt with at various levels of society in the CHT and how it relates to local, regional, and then national to transnational spaces; and finally, it critically engages with the intricacies of state policies, cultural politics and indigenous activism in Bangladesh through the case of the CHT. This article is based on a multi-year and multi-sited ethnography in the CHT which has been contextualised here to illustrate the local translation of global indigeneity. (7)

Indigenous Peoples, the CHT, and the localisation of indigeneity

Bangladesh is home to some three million Indigenous Peoples belonging to 45 groups who are broadly categorised as either Pahari adivasi (Indigenous Peoples of the hills, whose main livelihood is jhum (shifting cultivation) or Somotoler adivasi (Indigenous Peoples of the plains, whose livelihood is based on wet-land cultivation), based on, apart from many other parameters, their location and distinctive ethnohistories. (8) The Pahari adivasi live in the CHT, in southeastern Bangladesh, and the Somotoler adivasi live in the north of the country. Despite their differences in habitation, livelihoods and ethnopolitical histories, they are very similar in their marginalised socioeconomic and political positioning. This article, which will use 'adivasi' and 'Indigenous Peoples' interchangeably when discussing the CHT, focuses on the Pahari adivasi and how the idea of indigeneity has become installed in the area in relation to the long-running Indigenous movement to gain state recognition.

The CHT, which borders India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, is home to 11 Indigenous groups collectively known as Pahari. (9) The Pahari adivasi are distinct from Bengalis in terms of their sociocultural organisation, political economy and ethnicity. (10) Their languages, material culture, beliefs and rituals are also different from that of the majority Bengalis; rather, they are closely linked to the hill people of Assam in India and upper Myanmar, and many people consider them to be of 'Southeast Asian' ancestry. Indeed, the Pahari adivasi physically resemble Southeast Asians more than South Asians. And while the dominant language in Bangladesh is Bengali, which is Dravidian and Indo-Aryan, Pahari adivasi languages belong to the Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman and Kuki-Chin family. In terms of religion, most Pahari are Buddhists, whereas Bengalis are largely Muslims. The principal means of livelihood of the Pahari adivasi is jhum chash (swidden or shifting cultivation) whilst Bengalis are predominantly wet rice cultivators. The Pahari adivasi have a long history of having to endure political and economic discrimination as well as internal and external colonisation. Historical records indicate that the Pahari adivasi were the earliest people, dating back to the fifteenth century, who migrated to the CHT from neighbouring regions such as Arakan in Burma and Tripura in India. (11) For centuries, they have been politically independent, economically self-sufficient, culturally distinct and socially egalitarian. (12) However, beginning with the British intrusion into the CHT (1860), and continuing through the founding of Pakistan (1947) and then of Bangladesh (1971), the Pahari adivasi have gradually been marginalised in the context of the colonial and then the nation-state. (13)

After the British colonisers withdrew from the South Asian subcontinent in 1947, dividing the region into two separate nation-states based on the Mohammad Ali Jinnah's 'two-nation theory' (14) of religious homogeneity--Hindustan (India) for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims--the CHT was incorporated into Pakistan even though the Pahari adivasi were non-Muslims. Many scholars trace the beginning of the conflict between the Pahari adivasi and the state to this time. (15) Besides, the abolition of British colonial CHT Regulation Act 1900 (16) ('the CHT Manual 1900'), and the 1962 construction of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Dam, (17) consolidated grounds for conflict during the Pakistan period. After Bangladesh's independence in 1971, a delegation of various Pahari Indigenous groups met the prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972, demanding recognition of their separate ethnic identity in the constitutional framework of Bangladesh. Mujibur Rahman rejected their demand and urged them to instead assimilate with the majority in order to build a homogenous nation-state based on Bengali nationalism. (18)

Consequently, the Pahari adivasi formed a regional political organisation named the CHT People's Solidarity Association or Parbatya Chottogram Jono-Samhati Somiti (PCJSS/JSS) to launch a democratic movement demanding their separate identity and autonomy for the CHT. The JSS also formed Shanti Bahini (SB, 'Peace Troop'), an armed wing. The state regarded the JSS as a separatist movement and responded with the full militarisation of the CHT under the pretext of national security. Since then, the CHT has been represented as a region of ethnic conflict. This conflict was accentuated with the state-sponsored massive in-migration of Bengalis (400,000 people) from the lowlands into the CHT in an attempt to change its demographic composition. (19) In fact, the late 1970s to the early 1990s witnessed serious human rights violations, including killings, sexual violence against girls and women, the destruction of homes and other livelihood resources, abductions, and communal riots between some sections of Bengalis and Pahari adivasi in the CHT. (20) After two decades of bloody conflict, formal peace talks started in the late 1980s to try to resolve the unrest. Finally, after 27 successive meetings over a decade, the JSS and the government of Bangladesh reached a general consensus and signed a 'peace treaty' on 2 December 1997, which seemingly put an end to the long-standing conflict. Despite this accord, peace has not prevailed for most Pahari adivasis. Instead, conditions in the CHT have deteriorated to some extent. (21) Many scholars think that the non-implementation of the Peace Accord is the main reason behind the ongoing conflict. (22) Transnational movements of Indigenous Peoples' rights have strongly influenced the JSS, which has deliberately translated the idea of indigeneity and global Indigenous activism into their movement for addressing CHT issues.

However, there is a sharp distinction between the agendas of global Indigenous activism and that of Indigenous activism in Bangladesh. Indigeneity in Bangladesh encompasses three conceptual frameworks: first, indigeneity means a list and description of Indigenous groups, what Rogers Brubaker calls the 'categorical perspective', which finally denotes 'indigeneity is indigenous people'. (23) Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh are culturally distinct, isolated from the changing world, publically represented as 'primitive', and locally locked within their own settings. (24) Second, indigeneity is something related to the Indigenous movement, which is similar to what the Bangladesh Adivasi (Indigenous) Peoples Forum (BAPF) is doing for the rights of Indigenous Peoples (25) and what the JSS has been doing for the implementation of the Peace Accord; and third, the entire idea of indigeneity is something applicable as a substitute for the idea of ethnic minority, people who were called 'tribal' during the Pakistan period, 'hill-men' during the British period, and upajatee ('sub-nation') since the founding of Bangladesh in 1971. (26) The idea of indigeneity was brought to Bangladesh from outside by some nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), human rights groups, adivasi activists, academics, and civil society organisations, much as it has in other countries. (27) Adivasi activists have brought in the idea as a tool to reinforce their activism while being in contact with the transnational Indigenous Peoples' movement. Academics have brought in the idea of indigeneity as part of their research among Indigenous Peoples. Yet, it can also be said that many of the aforementioned organisations use the idea of Indigenous Peoples and organise some functions--such as processions, roundtable talks and cultural programmes to project 'indigenousness'--to 'legitimate' funding and to 'satisfy' their foreign donors. Therefore, in Bangladesh the idea of indigeneity is sometimes conceptually misplaced in activism, academia and public perception.

At the same time, indigeneity is an active political force that is globally endorsed and locally articulated, and is used to seek responses to Indigenous demands and to express Indigenous claims. 'Indigeneity has become a resource in identity politics, a matter of "deep belonging", desired more than discouraged, and proclaimed more than disguised as one's attachment to a particular place, culture, and nation.' (28) In fact, indigeneity is a concept based on sameness and difference between those who live on the margins and are culturally distinctive from those who form and run the modern nation-state and make up the majority. It also means a global political space as it becomes internationalised; as Merlan put it, 'indigeneity has come to also presuppose the sphere of commonality amongst those who form the world collectivity of "Indigenous Peoples" in contrast to various other groupings of people. The principal international home of international indigenism is within the United Nations system'. (29) Indigeneity has a strong political edge as it 'arrives as the time of resistance and rights, self-determination and sovereignty'. (30) Indigeneity has also been called a 'travelling discourse that has emerged and developed in dialogue with various social movements and non-indigenous actors'. (31) In this sense, indigeneity does not essentially mean Indigenous Peoples, but a globally accepted transnational political space for movements of Indigenous Peoples living in particular nation-states.

Similarly, the agendas of Indigenous activism at the global level and the local level are sharply different as far as Bangladesh is concerned. Whilst global Indigenous activism includes social justice, the right to land, integrity, Indigenous media, the restoration of cultural and customary ownership over nature and resources, political representation and participation, the rights to civil, economic and political liberty and so on, (32) in Bangladesh Indigenous activism still sticks to the fundamental 'constitutional recognition as Indigenous Peoples', which Sarajjoti Chakma terms 'the movement for identity'. Though Indigenous activism in Bangladesh is located along the imagined boundary between 'South Asia' and 'Southeast Asia', and involves such players as the Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact (AIPP) as well as the global indigenous activism embedded within the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York, JSS activists have set their own agendas, putting the demand for full implementation of the Peace Accord at the top, followed by constitutional recognition of separate ethnic identities as 'Indigenous Peoples'. This implies that Indigenous activism in Bangladesh is largely confined to identity politics, or what I choose to call 'cultural politics' (33) and Philip Burnham calls the 'politics of cultural difference'; (34) but Indigenous CHT activists have reset their own agendas under the framework of Indigenous activism. I prefer to describe this as a 'local translation of global indigeneity'.

To illustrate, when the JSS movement began in the early 1970s, it was widely known as the Chakma movement as it was mainly led by Chakma leaders. When the movement turned violent and clashed with both settler Bengalis and the Bangladesh military, the movement was renamed after the 'jumma movement' of the 1980s. When the state began to project the JSS movement as an insurgency, the latter began to call itself an 'ethnic movement'. Even after the signing of the Peace Accord in 1997, JSS was still known as an ethnic movement, since the idea of indigeneity was not well known in the Bangladesh political sphere in the 1990s. However, the JSS movement became part of Indigenous activism at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when the idea of indigeneity started gaining momentum in Bangladesh soon after the global Indigenous activism started connecting with national and regional Indigenous movements. (35) Since then, JSS activists have used this global space for their local agenda and converted their movement to advocate for the full implementation of the Peace Accord.

Indigeneity, global inspiration, and local translation

The idea of indigeneity in Bangladesh has undergone the dynamics of acceptance and rejection as the state plays dual roles at the global and local levels. While the rights of Indigenous Peoples have been widely accepted and endorsed at the UN level, Bangladesh has remained undecided with regard to accepting or rejecting even the idea of Indigenous Peoples, let alone endorsing their rights. Bangladesh is one of eleven countries which abstained from signing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the UN General Assembly on 13 September 20 07. (36) Bangladesh's representative, Ishrat Jahan Ahmed, explained that:
the Declaration, in its present form, contained some ambiguities, 
particularly that "indigenous people" had not been identified or 
explicitly defined in any way. Further, the text did not enjoy 
consensus among Member States. Under such circumstances, Bangladesh 
decided to abstain in the vote. (37)

However, the logic behind the abstention was later understood to be related to the views of the then military-backed interim caretaker government, (38) which was not an elected government. The caretaker government did not sign the Declaration and left the matter for the incoming elected political government to deal with.

Prior to the Ninth National Parliamentary Election held in 2008, a contest between two major electoral alliances--the Fourteen Party Alliance led by the Awami League (AL) and the Twenty Party Alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)--the AL-led alliance published an electoral manifesto pledging to confer constitutional recognition upon all ethnic minority groups as Indigenous Peoples. When the AL-led alliance won the election in 2008 it was expected that, as the AL is popularly known as a secular force compassionate towards Indigenous Peoples and their concerns, the Fourteen Party Alliance would honour its promise. When elected, the AL-led alliance government enthusiastically celebrated the IDWIP in 2008, 2009, and 2010. During these years, the Prime Minister, as well as the Law Minister, Food and Disaster Minister, Foreign Minister, Information Minister and other high profile leaders of the Fourteen Party Alliance made official statements to greet the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh that appeared in various magazines, Indigenous pamphlets, and other forms of publications to mark the day. As Shaktipada Tripura, organising secretary of the Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, explained,
It was really encouraging for us that the state didn't legally 
recognise the Indigenous Peoples in its land but the Government 
including the Prime Minister and other high profile cabinet ministers 
celebrated the IDWIP every year. Therefore, we strongly hoped that the 
AL led alliance government would confer to us the status of Indigenous 
Peoples. (39)

At the end of 2010, however, the AL-led alliance government completely reversed its position, declaring that 'there are no Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh'. In particular, the then foreign minister, Dipu Mony, made an official statement at the United Nations in late 2010, in which she stated that Bangladesh has no Indigenous Peoples. In 2011, the AL-led alliance government adopted the Fifteenth Amendment to the constitution, discarding the demands of Indigenous Peoples and referring to the latter as khudra nrigosti (small ethnic groups). Moreover, the AL-led alliance government circulated an official gazette to all district administrations and subdistrict administrations, ordering them to not celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as the state did not recognise any Indigenous Peoples in its land. The decision triggered massive criticism among the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh, and other progressive forces in society. A clear explanation from the government was expected, but the AL-led alliance government has not provided any convincing official clarification about its position, even though many politicians in the alliance are sympathetic to the Indigenous claims.

It should be noted at this point that the movement for the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh started with a different name under the Pahari Indigenous leaders in 1972, just after Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan in 1971. As mentioned earlier, during the process of adopting the first Constitution of Bangladesh, on 15 February 1972, Pahari Indigenous representatives led by Manobendra Narayan Larma, met Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and handed over a four-point charter requesting: first, autonomy for the CHT and allowing it to set up its own legislative assembly; second, inclusion of a statute similar to 'the CHT Regulation of 1900 Act' in the constitution; third, the retention of the offices of the tribal kings; (40) and lastly, the imposition of constitutional restrictions on making amendments to the Regulations of 1900 and the prohibition of Bengali settlement in the CHT. Mujibur Rahman's rejection of all their demands was indeed not the first time that Indigenous Peoples had encountered the state's policy of exclusion, embedded in the philosophy of Bengali nation-building and state-formation within a majoritarian framework. In 1972, Bangladesh adopted its first Constitution, in which Article 1(6) declared 'citizens of Bangladesh shall be identified as Bengalis', which constitutionally excluded the non-Bengali people who were culturally different. Following this rejection of their demands, the Pahari people started a movement under the JSS which was the first formal Indigenous movement against the state's role in adopting the policy of indigenous exclusion because they were more politically organised than the Somotoler adivasi. (41) The bloody conflict that ensued, and the growing number of human casualties in the CHT, received national and international attention, which brought support for the Indigenous Peoples of the CHT and their JSS-led movement. Inspired by the CHT adivasi, gradually, Indigenous Peoples of the lowlands also started speaking out against everyday forms of discrimination, including the state's role in their loss of entitlements and preferential treatment in development endeavours. The JSS still operated all sorts of political activities within the ambit of regional political organisations before global Indigenous activist connections with Bangladesh were established.

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, global developments in the recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples began to motivate Bangladesh's Indigenous activists. The most significant of these developments were: the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) in 1982; the Declaration of the (first) UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples in 1995; a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2000; appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People in 2001; the Declaration of the (second) UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples in 2005; and the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 in the UN General Assembly. Inspired by international Indigenous activism and support by the United Nations, Indigenous Peoples from various ethnic backgrounds, apart from Bengalis, formed a common political platform in the Bangladesh Adivasi Peoples' Forum or BAPF (also known as the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, BIPF) in 2001 with Shantu Larma, also the leader of the JSS, and Sanjeeb Drong, a Garo Indigenous activist, as president and general secretary respectively. (42)

Since the BAPF was formed, various Indigenous groups living in both the plains and the hills have been able to speak out about their suffering from discrimination and their confrontations with what Akhil Gupta calls the 'local state', that is the local bureaucracy. (43) The BAPF is mainly engaged in organising cultural events, supporting local campaigns, publishing material and pressing demands on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh. Apart from its local operational apparatus, it links local Indigenous movements with regional and transnational Indigenous ones. As Eva Gerharz explains:
The Forum is an official member of the Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact 
(AIPP), a Forum member is currently employed as the Coordinator for the 
Human Rights Campaign and Policy Advocacy at AIPP's headquarters in 
Chiang Mai, Thailand... The Forum is frequently invited to UN 
meetings, such as the Permanent Forum consultations in New York. For 
the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs and the European 
Commission, the Forum serves as a major contact partner. (44)

However, the state's rejection of Indigenous Peoples' claims at the United Nations and the national level in the Fifteenth Amendment led to renewed Indigenous activism because of the growing sense of exclusion and deprivation. In the CHT, Indigenous activism is actually a political movement lobbying for the full implementation of the Peace Accord and for having the identity of being 'Indigenous' included within the constitution. The significance of this local translation of the global movement are threefold: first, the JSS has been in the movement for the full implementation of Peace Accord, but rendering it as part of the global Indigenous movement and national Indigenous activism has earned national and international focus and support. Also Pahari activists have converted the JSS movement from a regional to a national Indigenous movement. Second, under the framework of indigeneity, the JSS movement has taken centre stage in the national Indigenous movement in Bangladesh, especially since Shantu Larma, president of the JSS, became the president of BAPF. Third, JSS's Indigenous activism has indeed reshaped the global idea of indigeneity into a more localised Indigenous movement primarily aiming for the full implementation of the Peace Accord. As Mongal Kumar Chakma, JSS's publicity and publication secretary, explained,
The JSS movement is no longer a regional movement of the CHT, but a 
global one because now a Chakma Indigenous activist represents the 
Indigenous peoples of Bangladesh at UN Human Rights Council Meeting 
held in Geneva. A JSS activist now represents Bangladesh Indigenous 
peoples at UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples at New York. A JSS 
activist now participates at AIPP meetings. Therefore, the installation 
of the global idea of indigeneity has provided us with a renewed 
political force to strengthen our movement for the full implementation 
of CHT accord. (45)

In the CHT, a local Indigenous movement is now globally connected and global Indigenous activism and agendas are locally informed. Therefore, the idea of indigeneity is both global and local, and hence the future of indigeneity depends on how it becomes capable of self-shaping within the setting of local needs and Indigenous claims. (46)

Politics of naming and the policies of marginalisation

State's cultural politics, what Amena Mohsin calls 'the politics of nationalism', (47) has produced various terms of reference to identify the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh, particularly those living in the CHT: Pahari, upajatee (sub-nation), tribe, jumma (shifting cultivators), adivasi or Indigenous Peoples and khudra nrigosti (small ethnic group). These identities revolved around state politics of exoticisation which ranked ethnic groups in terms of their cultural distinctiveness: Indigneous Peoples were relegated to a 'savage category' inferior to the cultural-political majority, the Bengalis. (48) But Pahari indigenous leaders invented the new identity of 'jumma people' to bring all Pahari adivasi groups under a common political platform because they are distinct from each other in language, material culture and beliefs/rituals. The philosophy of jumma identity is motivated by the logic that despite their difference in 'social organisation of cultural differences', the livelihoods of most Pahari Indigenous groups are the same as they still depend on jhum chash. Pahari political leaders have capitalised on this space of sameness-in-difference which remains a cornerstone of Indigenous activism in the CHT. The latest version of naming invented by the state is khudra nrigosti, produced as a counter discourse to that of adivasi or Indigenous Peoples. (49) Samiran Dewan, a school teacher who works with the Citizen's Committee of Rangamati in support of the CHT adivasi rights movement, sums up the politics of naming:
We are the same people but identified by different names in different 
political regimes from colonial to postcolonial times. Academics have 
produced the idea as the politics of identity, but we feel it as the 
politics of naming since naming politics reflects the state's policy of 
dealing with the Pahari Indigenous Peoples. (50)

There are two dimensions of this naming politics currently observed in Bangladesh: first, the state has categorically refused to accept the idea of indigeneity because many politicians and officials think that if the government accepts the Indigenous claim, it has to provide them with all the rights and privileges detailed in UNDRIP and has to follow the UN directives in its dealings with Indigenous Peoples. That is why the state prefers to refer to them as ethnic minorities, khudra nrigosti, upajatee, tribal and khudra jatisotta and not Indigenous Peoples. Second, the Pahari adivasi themselves feel they are Indigenous Peoples and that the state should recognise them as such, and provide support and incentives to uplift their social, economic and political status. Their main argument is that they feel that they qualify themselves as Indigenous Peoples under the definitions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations and other international legal frameworks though many Pahari adivasi, mainly the Khumi, Kheyang, Lushai, Pankhua, Chak and Mru, lack knowledge about the local/translocal and national/transnational dynamics of indigeneity. (51) As Mukul Lushai, a Lushai villager from Rangamati, explained:
It really does not matter in our lives whether we are khudra nrigosti 
or adivasi because we lead our lives moving from jhum-land to village 
and village to jhum-land to earn our everyday livelihood. We have 
nothing to do with this identity and identity politics. We are Lushai 
and this is our identity. (52)

Still, the majority of Pahari adivasi under JSS leadership now frequently come together to speak out and demonstrate their claim of being Indigenous, which is a central part of BAPF's agenda. Besides, their rights to land, ownership of natural resources in the CHT, and the full implementation of the Peace Accord, have become 'Indigenous issues' under Indigenous activism in Bangladesh. The point is that local Indigenous claims and demands have become legitimised within the framework of indigeneity which has national and transnational support and patronage. Though not all of the Pahari are involved with Indigenous activism, as reflected in Mukul Lushai's statement, and the degree of individual engagement varies depending on education, participation in regional politics, access to markets, connections with urban centres, and social and critical awareness, (53) JSS activists incorporate their political agendas in the Indigenous movement in Bangladesh as well as within the global sphere of Indigenous activism. Given the pace of engagement and disengagement, however, some less connected groups of Indigenous Peoples have become further marginalised: a large number of Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lusai, Chak, and Pankua have little engagement in and awareness about Indigenous activities and the politics of naming. This process of marginalisation within the Indigenous movement is what Alpa Shah has called the 'dark side of indigeneity', in the context of Jharkhand in India. (54)

In fact, the politics of identity is still the central concern of all sorts of Indigenous activism in Bangladesh. When I repeatedly asked Sarajjoti Chakma why Indigenous activists in Bangladesh are still sticking to identity politics, he responded, 'If you don't have your existence, how can you fight for your food, clothes, education, health care and social-cultural-economic-political rights? That's why we are now first fighting, in fact not for our identity but for our existence.' (55) Indigenous activism in the CHT is, at least for some, connected with the question of existence, which is related to their identity within the legal and constitutional framework. (56) In fact, livelihood struggles continue to affect the Indigenous Peoples of the CHT. (57) Though inventing various forms of identities by Indigenous Peoples could be seen as part of the 'arts of resistance', (58) I would prefer to consider it part of 'the politics of naming' that is deliberately designed to continue to marginalise the Indigenous Peoples within the nation-state. (59)

In fact, the politics of naming is a state strategy of ethnic category formation, because the identification of an exotic category gives the ethnic majority a superior status and civilised image. (60) The identities imposed by the state are always problematic since these--Pahari, tribal, upajatee and khudra nrigosthi--contain more or less the same colonial connotation of 'savage others', or what Adam Kuper and Andre Beteille have called 'the reproduction of primitivity'. (61) The imposition of these identities is intended to frame Indigenous Peoples as a cultural category with a savage image distinct from the mainstream national community. However, some invented terms, which also come out of the politics of naming, can end up as tools for accelerating and consolidating Indigenous claims and strengthen Indigenous activism. For example, along with state-produced names, the Pahari adivasi have created a few more identities--jumma, and adivasi or Indigenous Peoples--which are also in some ways imposed, as they were not made up by the general Pahari, including the Khumi, Mru, Lushai, Chak, Kheyang and Pankhua, etc. (62) These names/identities were intended to establish Indigenous Peoples as a political category in relation to the global idea of indigeneity, which Merlan called the 'internationalised category' and Ghosh terms the 'global political category'. (63) The basic difference is that the former names/identities involve the state policy of derogation whilst the latter ones contain aspirations of empowerment based on the transnational recognition of indigeneity. Since a substantial proportion of Pahari adivasis are less educated, have irregular contact with the outside world, have little access to JSS's regional politics, and the transnational politics of indigeneity, they are positioned within the politics of naming without actually being engaged with either the local or global forms of indigeneity.

What I am trying to say is that the global idea of indigeneity as locally translated in the CHT has been instrumental in reinforcing the JSS campaign for the full implementation of the Peace Accord. Yet, despite the fact that it has rightly countered the state's derogatory strategies, the JSS's renaming tactics have hardly brought about positive and substantial change for the mass of Indigenous Peoples in the CHT who are not directly involved with the movement. Despite the manifold advantages of the global framework of indigeneity, this is one of the limitations of the 'local translation of global indigeneity', as will be detailed below.

Indigeneity, the state, and everyday life

The way the idea of indigeneity has been adopted in Bangladesh has two dimensions: it has included JSS politics so as to incorporate national and international agendas whilst excluding most grassroots Pahari from its ambit of activism. In fact, all sorts of Indigenous activism in Bangladesh generally takes place in major metropolitan cities; particularly in Dhaka and Chittagong, except for some demonstrations against land-grabbers in northern Bangladesh. JSS activities are likewise also centred in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhai, the three district towns in the CHT. Therefore, an effective way to understand Indigenous activism, the idea of indigeneity and its dynamics is to look at it from below, that is, from the point of view of Pahari peoples' lived experiences in the CHT.

Indigenous activism in the CHT is a 'town-centred' form of political activism and rights movement distanced from the mass of Pahari adivasi--the majority of Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak peoples live in relatively remote areas. Most of them work all day long in their jhum fields and their lives are circumscribed between jhum and village. Many of them do not have any sort of relationhip with the Indigenous activism of the CHT. Yet they continually experience their cultural difference, economical marginalisation and political disempowerment whenever they deal with local officials, law-enforcing personnel and agencies, and Bengali settlers. (64) Although the JSS activists locally installed the transnational idea of indigeneity to align their local activism with aspects of the international movement, they have excluded the majority of adivasi from that activism. (65) Thus, we need an alternative framework to understand how the idea of indigeneity and Indigenous activism exists in relation to the state, since the Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak people live on the margins and remain at the lowest layer of state-Indigenous relations. (66)

After the formation of the BAPF, the Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak, along with all other Indigenous groups living in both hills and plains, have merged with it, and have become part of the claim of being Indigenous. Yet most of these groups are not familiar with the 'idea of Indigenous Peoples'; the majority of Pahari adivasis do not even know the meaning of the term, let alone understand the politics of indigeneity and its transnational dynamics. Most Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak are quite unaware of the merits and demerits of being internationally or constitutionally recognised as 'Indigenous Peoples'. This is similar to the Indigenous experience in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Laos, where only a small number of activists understand the global concept of Indigenous Peoples. (67) I have observed that while many of the people considered by activists to be Indigenous Peoples sometimes discuss the politics of identity, they often prefer to accept a new form of identity if they believe that they can gain from it. As Kambai Pangkhua, from Pankhua village in Rangamati, explained in 2014,
I don't know what the meaning of Indigenous Peoples is and why we are 
called Indigenous Peoples. And I also do not know what we will get from 
the sarkar (government) if we become Indigenous. I really don't know 
how we can become Indigenous. I don't even know whether it is a matter 
of becoming or if we are already Indigenous. But, we can understand 
that we are different from Bengalis who run the state. We are made to 
understand this while dealing with the state administration, police, 
military and Bengalis people. They make it clear that we are not 
Bengalis but others. Then, sometime I feel that I want to get together 
and unite ourselves to express our experiences that are full of 
everyday forms of discriminations and ill-treatments we receive from 
the state and state institutions. Maybe it could be called indigeneity 
but I am not sure of it.

Kambai Pangkhua clearly expresses the many ambiguities around identifying as and being Indigenous in Bangladesh. First, the people who are the object of indigeneity are less aware about this idea of transnational discourses and why it is an effective instrument for claiming and securing their rights and entitlements. It also tells us that while a small section of CHT's Indigenous Peoples are involved in activism, a larger proportion of them have little or no engagement in the entire dynamics of Indigenous activism at either the local or global levels. Second, it critically questions whether Indigenousness is a matter of becoming or of recognition, or an inherent state of being in terms of culturally distinctive relationships to locality/land, nature, resources, and habitats since time immemorial. Nevertheless, the transnational discourse of indigeneity is somehow redefining Indigenous People's identities. Kambai's views also unveil a radical interpretation of indigeneity, related to whether 'becoming indigenous' is motivated by what the Indigenous Peoples extract from the state or if it is some sort of activism just to express and display their 'indigenousness' before national space and the state. Finally, Kambai critically unveils how the sense of marginality, space of vulnerability and everyday forms of discrimination are produced and reproduced by the state agents and institutions. Indeed, local-societal dynamics reminds Indigenous Peoples of their positioning in the framework of modern notions of statehood. This sense of difference also generates the idea that 'indigeneity is a political space and an active political force' and creates space for them to speak out about their pains and sorrows as well as rights and entitlements.

During my field visits in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 in the CHT when Indigenous activism gained momentum, I really found little concern about the idea of indigeneity and its local--global nexus and context in relation to the state's roles and policies towards what Phillip Burnham has referred to as 'the people of culture difference' (68) among the majority of Khumi, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, Mru and Chak. I also observed that the majority of Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak showed minimal interest or were simply indifferent about whether they are called Indigenous Peoples or not. It may be said then that the politics of indigeneity and Indigenous activism in Bangladesh is in some way a kind of elite politics of relatively privileged adivasi individuals and of those who have access to urban centres, are educated, have access to national political space and international connectivity. (69)

At various levels of the Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak societies, villagers may subscribe or ignore different forms of 'naming', depending on their level of education, degree of connectivity, access to the political sphere and engagement in Indigenous politics. The Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua, and Chak who live on the margins of mainstream society, do not understand the meaning of 'indigeneity' in the academic sense, but through their lived experiences, when they come in contact with official/ state representatives in their everyday lives. Nevertheless, indigeneity is also a kind of belonging to a particular 'position' that people across the world feel amidst their everyday suffering, sense of deprivation, and the politics of marginalisation. This belongingness to a particular 'position' and grassroots understanding of the state's role in the production of 'marginality' otherwise justifies the successful local installation of the transnational idea of Indigenous Peoples in the CHT.


Despite its global popularity and transnational publicity, indigeneity is not a universal concept but a contextually particularist one as it shapes its meaning, determines its roles, and sets its agendas, depending on the particular Indigenous Peoples concerned. Therefore, the idea of indigeneity is a dynamic and travelling concept as it changes its force, pace and application in accordance with local aspirations and the articulation of particular sociopolitical and ethnohistorical settings.

Indigeneity supports and promotes national, regional and local Indigenous activism in an attempt to reinforce local Indigenous claims and demands spanning from ensuring Indigenous identity, rights to land and resources, accelerating dignity and integrity, gearing up development and cooperation, opening up access to the political sphere and state management, to Indigenous empowerment. Global support for Indigenous activism channels through human rights bodies that work for Indigenous Peoples at the national and local level. It is also directly connected to regional and national Indigenous activist groups and forums (such as the AIPP and the BAPF) which converge into consolidated ones to support Indigenous claims and demands.

The CHT case is unique because the Pahari Indigenous activists, under the organisational framework of JSS, has translated global support for transnational indigeneity and the force of its national activism to press for the full implementation of the Peace Accord. This articulating of JSS agendas within the structure of Indigenous activism in Bangladesh has reshaped the global idea of indigeneity into the local Indigenous movement, and both converge in the struggle for the full implementation of the Peace Accord. Therefore, in this case, the idea of indigeneity is at once global and local, and the future of indigeneity depends on how it becomes capable of self-shaping within the context of local ethnopolitical needs and Indigenous claims.

(1) Sarajjoti Chakma, interview, 9 Aug. 2015, Chittagong.

(2) Kaushik Ghosh, 'Between global flows and local dams: Indigenousness, locality and the transnational sphere in Jharkhand, India', Cultural Anthropology 21, 4 (2006): 501-34.

(3) Francesca Merlan, 'Indigeneity: Global and local', Current Anthropology 50, 3 (2009): 303-33.

(4) Karen Fox, 'Globalising indigeneity: Writing Indigenous histories in a transnational world', History Compass 10, 6 (2012): 423-39.

(5) Ghosh, 'Between global flows and local dams'.

(6) James C. Scott, The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). See also Micah F. Morton and Ian Baird, 'From Hill tribes to Indigenous Peoples: The localisation of a global movement in Thailand', this vol.

(7) Multi-sited ethnography follows a topic or social problem through different field sites geographically and/or socially; see Mark-Anthony Falzon, ed., Multi-sited ethnography: Theory, praxis and locality in contemporary research (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009). Fieldwork in CHT was conducted between 2005 and 2007; followed by 15 months of fieldwork between 2008 and 2015. Apart from intensive fieldwork in a Khumi village, I have visited many Kheyang, Lushai, Pankhua, Mru and Chak villages and talked to many Indigenous activists in the CHT. I have researched CHT issues since 1997; this includes archival research in the United Kingdom and India. I was born in Cox's Bazar, a neighbouring district of the CHT and hence have been closely attached to the evolving history of the relations between CHT and the state.

(8) See (accessed 13 Dec. 2015), although the figures are debatable. Some scholars and activists claim that there are 48 groups. See Mizbah Kamal, 'Introduction', in Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh, ed. Mizbah Kamal et al. (Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2007): xiii-xlvii.

(9) Academics use the 1992 statistics because there are no official statistics on the CHT in the Bangladesh census. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Statistical pocket book of Bangladesh (Dhaka: BBS, 1992).

(10) See Willem van Schendel, ed., Francis Buchanan in southeast Bengal (1798): His journey to Chittagong, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali and Camilla (Dhaka: University Press, 1992); Pierre Bessaignet, Tribesmen of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Dacca: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1958); Claus-Dieter Brauns and Lorenz Loffler, The Mru: Hill people on the border of Bangladesh (Berlin: Birkhauser, 1990); Alamgir M. Serajuddin, 'The Chakma tribes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the eighteenth century', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1 (1984): 90-98; Selina Ahsan, The Marmas of Bangladesh (Dhaka: Ahsan, 1995); Amena Mohsin, The politics of nationalism: A case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Dhaka: University Press, 2002); Nasir Uddin, 'Homeless at home: An ethnographic study on marginality and leadership among the Khumi in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh' (PhD diss., Kyoto University, 2008).

(11) George Abraham Grierson, Linguistic survey of India, vols. 1-6 (Calcutta: Bengal Government Press, 1927); Robert Henry Sneyd Hutchinson, An account of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1906); Thomas Herbert Lewin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts and the people dwelling therein (Calcutta: Bengal Printing Co., 1869); T.H. Lewin, Wild races of the eastern frontier of India (London: Allen, 2004[1870]); van Schendel, Francis Buchanan; Alexander Mackenzie, History of the relations of the government with the Hill Tribes of the north-east frontier of Bengal (Calcutta: Home Department Press, 1884); William Wilson Hunter, A statistical account of Bengal, vol. 6: Chittagong Hill Tracts, Chittagong, Noakhali, Tipperah, Hill Tipperah (London: Trubner, 1876); Emil Riebeck, A.H. Keane, Albert Grunwedel, Julius Kuhn and Rudolf Virchow, The Chittagong Hill Tracts: Results of a journey made in the year 1882 (London: Asher, 1885); Herbert H. Risely, The tribes and castes of Bengal: Ethnographic glossary (Calcutta: Firma Mukhopadhyay, 1891).

(12) Nasir Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference: Identity and marginality in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh', South Asian Survey 17, 2 (2010): 283-94.

(13) Nasir Uddin, 'History is the story for existence: A case study of the Chittagong Hill Tracts', Asian Profile 33, 4 (2005): 391-412; Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(14) See Anand K. Verma, Reassessing Pakistan: Role of two-nation theory (New Delhi: Lancer, 2001).

(15) S. Mahmud Ali, The fearful state: Power, people and internal war in South Asia (London: Zed, 1993); Shapan Adnan, Migration, land alienation and ethnic conflict: Causes of poverty in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh (Dhaka: Research and Advisory Services, 2004); Benu Prasad Barua, Ethnicity and national integration in Bangladesh: A study of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (New Delhi: Har-Anand, 2001); Aditya Kumer Dewan, 'Class and ethnicity in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh' (PhD diss., McGill University, 1990); Mohsin, The politics of nationalism; Raja Devasish Roy, 'The discordant accord: Challenges towards the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997', Journal of Social Studies 100 (2003): 4-57; Uddin, 'History is the story for existence'.

(16) The Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900 (Act 1 of 1900), popularly known as 'the CHT Manual 1900', was a administrative manual for the CHT enacted by the British colonial government; (accessed 25 July 2017).

(17) The dam was built over the Karnaphuli River at Kaptai in 1962. The dam drastically changed the CHT's topography, ecology and demography, causing extensive damage to Indigenous livelihoods in the area. The Kaptai Hydroelectric Dam is often regarded as the CHT's 'death hole'.

(18) Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(19) Ibid.

(20) Amnesty International, Kapeeng Foundation, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, and others have documented and published many reports of the violence against the adivasi.

(21) Nasir Uddin, 'Between people and paper: Understand peace and conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts', Asian Profile 41, 6 (2013): 391-412.

(22) For example, Amena Mohsin, The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the difficult road to peace (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003); Bhumitra Chakma, 'Assessing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord', Asian Profile 36, 1 (2008): 93-106; Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, Building lasting peace: Issues of the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord (Urbana: ACDIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002); Meghna Guhothakurta, 'Ethnic conflict in a post-accord situation: The case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh', paper presented at the University of Mumbai, 2004.

(23) Rogers Brubaker, 'Ethnicity without groups', in Ethnicity, nationalism and minority rights, ed. Stephen May, Tariq Modood and Judith Squires (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 50-77.

(24) In Bangladesh, indigenous people are still popularly sketched with savage notions. Academics have also contributed to this image. See, for example, Abdus Sattar, In the sylvan shadows (Dhaka: Bangla Academy, 1983); Brauns and Loffler, The Mm; Ahsan, The Marmas of Bangladesh; Ahsan Ali, Santals of Bangladesh (Mindnapore: Institute of Social Research and Applied Anthropology [ISRAA], 1998); Abdus Sattar, Research on tribal people in Bangladesh [in Bengali] (Dhaka: Nasas, 2000); Mohsin, The politics of nationalism; Abdul Awwal Biswas, Rakkhains of Bangladesh: An ethnographic study (Mindnapore: ISRAA, BIDISA, 2010).

(25) See, Eva Gerharz, 'Indigenous activism in Bangladesh: Translocal spaces and shifting constellations of belonging', Asian Ethnicity 15, 4 (2014): 552-70.

(26) So, in Bangladesh, Bengalis are believed to be jatee and all other people upajatee. See Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(27) See Morton and Baird, 'From Hill tribes to Indigenous Peoples', this vol.

(28) Nasir Uddin, Eva Gerharz and Pradeep Chakkarath, 'Exploring Indigeneity: Introductory remarks on a transnational discourse', in Indigeneity on the move: Varying manifestations of a contested concept, ed. E. Gerharz, N. Uddin and P. Chakkarath (Oxford: Berghahn, 2017), p. 1.

(29) Merlan, 'Indigeneity', p. 303.

(30) Ghosh, 'Between global flows and local dams', p. 504.

(31) Bengt G. Karlsson, 'Anthropology and the "indigenous slot": Claims to and debates about Indigenous Peoples' status in India', Critique of Anthropology 23, 4 (2003): 406.

(32) See United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 'Indigenous Peoples at the UN', (accessed 27 Sept. 2017).

(33) Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(34) See Philip Burnham, The politics of cultural difference in northern Cameroon (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996).

(35) See also Morton and Baird, 'From Hill tribes to Indigenous Peoples', this vol.

(36) The countries that abstained were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, and Ukraine.

(37) See United Nations, 'General Assembly adopts Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: "Major step forward" towards human rights for all says President', (accessed 28 Dec. 2015).

(38) Caretaker governments were instituted in Bangladesh with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1996 and are transitional governments intended to smoothen the transition of power from one elected government to another.

(39) Shaktipada Tripura, interview, Aug. 2014, Rangamati.

(40) Historically, the CHT was administered by a system of kingship which was officially recognised by the CHT Manual of 1900, under which CHT was divided into three circles, each headed by a ruler who was responsible for administrative, judicial and other functions.

(41) The first adivasi political organisation, Jatio Adivasi Parisad (National Indigenous Council), was formed in 1993 to represent the Indigenous People of northern Bangladesh.

(42) Adivasi' is also used in India, but with different connotations. See Andre Beteille, 'The idea of Indigenous People', Current Anthropology 39, 2 (1998): 187-92.

(43) Akhil Gupta, 'Blurred boundaries: The discourse of corruption, the culture of politics and the imagined state', American Ethnologist 22, 2 (1995): 375-402.

(44) Eva Gerharz, 'Beyond and beneath the nation-state: Bangladeshi Indigenous Peoples' activism at the crossroad', Working Paper in Development Sociology and Social Anthropology No. 372 (University of Bielefeld, 2013), p. 13.

(45) Mongal Kumar Chakma, interview, 9 Aug. 2016, Chittagong.

(46) Morton and Baird, 'From Hill tribes to Indigenous Peoples', this vol.

(47) See Mohsin, The politics of nationalism.

(48) Nasir Uddin, 'Colonial (re)presentation of colonised people: A case study of the Chittagong Hill Tracts' (n.p., 2009).

(49) See further Nasir Uddin, 'In search of self: Indigeneity, identity and cultural politics in Bangladesh', in Gerharz et al., Indigeneity on the move.

(50) Samiran Dewan, interview, 2 Dec. 2016, Chittagong.

(51) Of 11 indigenous groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chakma, Marma, Tripural, Bawm and Tanchangya are numerically dominant and relatively 'developed', whilst Khumi, Mru, Kheyang, Lushai, Pangkhua and Chak are minorities within the minority in terms of education, economic development and political empowerment.

(52) Interview, July 2012, in a Lushai village in Rangamati. I was trying to understand how the villagers were connected with the JSS movement in the CHT and hardly found any direct connection.

(53) Nasir Uddin, 'Beyond political and cultural binary: Understanding Indigenous activism from below', paper presented at a workshop on 'Indigenous activism in Bangladesh: A critical perspective', Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Sciences, 18 Mar. 2014.

(54) Alpa Shah, 'The dark side of Indigeneity?', History Compass 5, 6 (2007): 1806-32.

(55) Sarajjoti Chakma, interview, 9 Aug. 2015, Chittagong.

(56) See Nasir Uddin, 'Struggle for existence: Identity politics and Indigenous activism in the Chittagong Hill Tracts', in Bangladesh: History, politics, economy, society and culture, ed. Mahmudul Huque (Dhaka: University Press, 2016), pp. 319-40.

(57) Uddin, 'History is the story for existence'.

(58) James C. Scott, Domination and the arts of resistance: Hidden transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).

(59) Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(60) See Uddin, 'Colonial (re)presentation of colonised people'; Ellen Bal, They ask if we eat frog: Garo ethnicity in Bangladesh (Leiden: International Institute for Asian Studies, 2007); Willem van Schendel, 'The dangers of belonging: Tribes, Indigenous Peoples and homelands in South Asia', in The politics of belonging in India: Becoming Adivasi, ed. Daniel Rycroft and Sangeeta Dasgupta (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 19-43.

(61) Adam Kuper, 'The return of the native', Current Anthropology 44, 3 (2003): 389-402; Beteille, 'The idea of Indigenous People'.

(62) Uddin, 'Beyond political and cultural binary'.

(63) Merlan, 'Indigeneity'; Ghosh, 'Between global flows and local dams'.

(64) See Uddin, 'History is the story for existence'; Uddin, 'Politics of cultural difference'.

(65) For a similar example in the Philippines, see Oona Paredes, 'Revisiting "tradition": The business of Indigeneity in the modern Philippine context', this vol.

(66) See Uddin, 'Beyond political and cultural binary'; Nasir Uddin, 'Living on the margin: The positioning of the Khumi within the socioeconomic, political and ethnic history of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh', Asian Ethnicity 8, 3 (2008): 33-53.

(67) Ian G. Baird, 'Translocal assemblages and the circulation of the concept of "Indigenous Peoples" in Laos', Political Geography 46 (2015): 54-64.

(68) Burnham, The politics of cultural difference. See also Paredes, 'Revisiting "tradition"', this vol.

(69) Uddin, 'Struggle for existence'; Uddin, 'In search of self'.

Nasir Uddin is Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Chittagong. Correspondence in connection with this article may be addressed to:

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Title Annotation:Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Author:Uddin, Nasir
Publication:Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Feb 1, 2019
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