Northeast India is home to many distinct communities and is an area of incredible ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity. This book explores the shared cultural heritage among the highland and river valley communities of Northeast India and mainland South East Asia, including South China, through oral traditions. It looks at these shared cultural traditions and suggests new ways of understanding and interpreting the heritage of Northeast India. Oral traditions often bring forward an unexpected twist in understanding historical and cultural links, and this volume explores this using local knowledge and innovative engagements with oral traditions in multiple ways, from folklore and language to performative traditions.
The essays in this volume examine how communities build new meanings from old traditions, often as a recognition of the tension between conservation and creation, between individual interpretation and social consensus. They offer interesting parallels on how oral traditions behave in different socio-economic contexts, and also examine how oral traditions and memory interact with the digital world’s penetration in the remote areas.
This volume will be useful for scholars and researchers of Northeast India, sociology, sociology of culture, cultural studies, ethnic studies, anthropology, folkloristics, and political sociology.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Oral Traditions in Highland Asia: A view from Northeast India
1. From Marginal Zone to Borderland? Ethnographies, Histories and Politics in North East India
Erik de Maaker
2. "Buluotuo Culture”: The Zhuang Oral Traditions as Performance
3. Northeast India and South East Asia: Rediscovering a Cultural Lineage through Folklores
4. The Uniqueness of Storytelling on Malay Folktales
Roslina binti Abu Bakar
5. The Khasi Oral Traditional Forms of Communication
Natalie J Diengdoh
6. Integrating Oral Narratives in Linguistic Study of Speech Communities: A Case Study of Angami Naga (Kohima village)
7. Pottery Technology in Garo Hills: An Ethnoarchaeological Interpretation
8. Constancy and Change: A Study on the Traditional and Colonial built forms of the Khasis
Aiban S. Mawkhroh
9. Health, Spirits and Modern Medicine in Northeast India
N. William Singh
10. Role of Women in the making of Boro Culture: From Knowledge Production to Empowerment
11. Elwin as the Presenter of the Tales of the Tribes films
12. Old Links: New Content: Reconnecting North East India and Southeast Asia
Surajit Sarkar is Associate Professor and coordinator of the Centre for Community Knowledge at Ambedkar University, Delhi, India. He has been a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study at University of Durham (UK), the International Institute for Asian Studies at Leiden (Netherlands). Surajit is also an award-winning documentary film maker and video artist for theatre and dance productions. He has created multimedia installations in museums and galleries in India and abroad.
Nerupama Y. Modwel is Principal Director, Intangible Cultural Heritage Division, INTACH. She has led a number of research and documentation projects on performing traditions, folklore and oral narratives, studies on tribal communities across the country, and cultural resource mapping of heritage cities like Varanasi, Prayagraj, Patna and Gaya. She has worked on a number of publications on the intangible heritage of India, and guided the development of a Virtual Experiential Museum at Varanasi. Previously, she taught at Delhi University, India and Rajasthan University, India.