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Darjeeling ReconsideredHistories, Politics, Environments$
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Townsend Middleton and Sara Shneiderman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199483556

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199483556.001.0001

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The Quest to Belong and Become

The Quest to Belong and Become

Ethnic Associations and Changing Trajectories of Ethnopolitics in Darjeeling

(p.154) 7 The Quest to Belong and Become
Darjeeling Reconsidered

Nilamber Chhetri

Oxford University Press

Exploring the intricate processes of ethnic mobilization in Darjeeling since the turn of twentieth century, this chapter provides a diachronic understanding of ethnic associations and highlights their changing forms and functions. The analysis focuses on the hybrid nature of ethnic demands oscillating between classically civil and political concerns. In this regard, the chapter discusses how ethnic associations in recent decades have interacted with state institutions and framed their identities as ‘tribes’, worthy of official Scheduled Tribe recognition. It further analyses the various manifestations of these demands and documents the associated contestations brewing within ethnic associations over questions of ethnic or ‘tribal’ culture. The chapter argues that these demands reflect a blend of political and civil societal concerns, which reflect a perpetual quest to become and belong in contemporary India.

Keywords:   Ethnicity, identity politics, scheduled tribes, recognition, cultural revitalization, civil society, political society

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