Community Ethnographies

Most of the descriptions of tribal communities so far have depended heavily on the colonial ethnographic sources, and the colonial ethnographic methods. As a result, very conflicting reports about the nature of the social organization, cultural conventions, agricultural practices and economic perspectives of tribal communities have been in circulation. This is particularly so in relation to the communities that were at one time described as ‘Primitive Tribal Groups’ and the nomadic as well as pastoral communities. There is practically no ethnographic knowledge available on very small coastal and sea-faring communities. As a result the development planning directed towards these communities has not been as effective as desired.

Considering the paucity of proper information, and the consequent gap between development plans and the social practices of the tribal communities, the Adivasi Academy has decided to carry out a novel study, tentatively named ‘Insider Ethnography’. The initiative has so far resulted in very intensive study of fifty-two communities in Gujarat which will be published.

In the process, the Academy has developed a methodology for the study of tribal communities. The Academy plans to undertake studies of communities in other states and publish the studies in the form of monographs. The aim is to complete a series of monographs on each and every tribe, nomadic and pastoral community and coastal groups in Hindi and English. The series of monographs will be an extremely informative tool for economic planning at all levels.