Indigenous Identity in South Asia: Making Claims in the Colonial Chittagong Hill Tracts, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Indigenous Identity in South Asia

Making Claims in the Colonial Chittagong Hill Tracts, 1st Edition

By Tamina M. Chowdhury


198 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367025984
pub: 2018-08-23
Hardback: 9781138673434
pub: 2016-11-03
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In the immediate aftermath of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, an armed struggle ensued in its remote south-eastern corner. The hill people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, more commonly referred to as paharis, demanded official recognition, and autonomy, as the indigenous people of the Tracts. This demand for autonomy was primarily based on the claim that they were ethnically distinct from the majority ‘Bengali’ population of Bangladesh, and thereby needed to protect their unique identity.

This book challenges the general perception within existing scholarship that indigenous claims coming from the Tracts are a recent and contemporary phenomenon, which emerged with the founding of the Bangladesh state. By analysing the processes of colonisation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the author argues that identities of distinct ethnicity and tradition predate the creation of Bangladesh, and first began to evolve under British patronage. It is asserted that claims to indigeneity must be understood as an outcome of prolonged and complex processes of interaction between hill peoples – largely the Hill Tracts elites – and the Raj.

Using hitherto unexplored archival sources, Indigenous Identity in South Asia sheds new light on how the concepts of ‘territory’, and of a ‘people indigenous to it’ came to be forged and politicised. By showing a far deeper historical lineage of claims making in the Tracts, it adds a new dimension to existing studies on Bangladesh’s borders and its history. The book will also be a key resource for scholars of South Asian history and politics, colonial history and those studying indigenous identity.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Raids, territorialisation, and agricultural penetration: The Chittagong Hill Tracts before and after annexation, 1760-1861 3. Police, post-raids polities and creation of an economy, 1865-1885 4. The case of the disparaged chiefs, 1891-1930 5. Last attempts to reclaim authority by the Hill elites and the making of indigeneity, 1920s-1930s 6. Political exclusion and the Tracts in the run up to partition, 1933-47 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Tamina Mahmud Chowdhury received her PhD from University of Cambridge, UK. Until September 2015, she was a Research Fellow/Associate Professor at the Brac Institute of Governance and Development, Brac University, Bangladesh.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies

South Asia, with its burgeoning, ethnically diverse population, soaring economies, and nuclear weapons, is an increasingly important region in the global context. The series, which builds on this complex, dynamic and volatile area, features innovative and original research on the region as a whole or on the countries. Its scope extends to scholarly works drawing on history, politics, development studies, sociology and economics of individual countries from the region as well those that take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the area as a whole or to a comparison of two or more countries from this region. In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the insights germane to area studies, as well as the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods. The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from young authors who have recently completed their doctoral dissertations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General