1st Edition

The Politics of Ethnic Renewal in Darjeeling Gorkhas and the Struggle for Tribal Recognition

By Nilamber Chhetri Copyright 2023
    240 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    240 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    240 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book examines the nature of ethnopolitics evolving in the Darjeeling hills, located in the Eastern Himalayas. It highlights how in the wake of regional politics minorities pursue alternative avenues to attain rights and recognition. The book provides an astute analysis of competing claims of culture and identity engendered both by demands for regional autonomy and struggles for scheduled tribe status. It highlights the varied forms of ethnic demands often demonstrated through performative and discursive claims. The volume initiates a timely discussion on the discourse of recognition, politics of difference, and alterity which has wider implications and applications to understand South Asian realities.

    Drawing on rich empirical research, this work will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of politics, anthropology, sociology, tribal studies, ethnography, minority studies, and South Asian studies.

    List of Tables

    List of Figures

    Map of the study area

    A Note on Transliteration


    List of Abbreviations

    Introduction: Setting the Stage

    1 Discreet Groups and Collective Identity: Consolidation of the Nepali/Gorkha Community

    2 The Formation of Ethnic Associations and Changing Ethnopolitics in Darjeeling

    3 Moving Forward to Become Backward: Claims for Recognition as Scheduled Tribes

    4 Remembering the Past, Restructuring the Future: Demands for Recognition and Politics of Difference

    5 Ritualizing Ethnicity, Ethnicizing Rituals: Engaging the State and Performative Claims

    6 From Construction to Constitution: Negotiating Multiple and Overlapping Identities




    Nilamber Chhetri is an assistant professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India. Before joining IIT Mandi, he taught at Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai. His broad areas of interest are politics of social and cultural identities in South Asia, scheduling of tribes and practices of state classification in India, ethnic groups and demands for recognition, and borderland politics and infrastructural issues in the Himalayan highlands. He regularly contributes research papers and book reviews to leading journals and has also served as referee to journals such as The Indian Anthropologists, Asian Ethnicity, Third World Quarterly, and Journal of South Asian Development.