Labouring Families- Work and Life of Gonds in India

Smita Yadav//Anthropology//12th of February//1-2 pm//Arts C133

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Smita Yadav is a Dphil candidate in Social Anthropology. She has worked eight years professionally and academically on rural North India. She also has a bachelors in Physics due to which her interests range from theoretical to empirical research on using discourse analysis, oral histories, archival research, and keen on applying ethnography in other transdisciplines and regions.

For the Dphil lecture series, Smita will present her ongoing dissertation  on Gonds, a tribal community in Central India.  She will share her descriptive fieldwork on the social lives of Gonds of Manor, a labour colony in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. Gonds’s livelihoods are threatened since the Forest department has restricted their access to Forests thus making the Gonds vulnerable to distressed wages and other forms of exploitative employer/worker relationships. The Gonds seasonally migrate and locally diversify their sources of incomes to keep their heads above water and manage from falling further into inferior conditions of living and also avoid starvation.  Her micro level ethnographic study of the Gonds reveals the protestations and accommodation  of the Gonds to various State led programs like housing, education, and employment which has very limited impact on their lives. She will discuss the various ways Gonds are struggling to meet their daily and basic needs and the consequential changes of gender and kinship within the Gond household as Gond women take charge of running their household by engaging in casual forms of labour and work available to them locally. Smita will also be discussing the Gonds’s forms of social mobility and modern forms of consumption. She will make a case for how that is not to be mistaken with Sanskritisation, a similar form appropriated for upward mobility by Scheduled Caste groups, another marginalised group. Instead, she will argue that Gonds forms of social mobility and aspirations for change  is Rajputisation, which mirrors the dominant Rajput culture of Panna district. Her fieldwork revealed that the State discourse of helping the poor like the Gonds out of poverty also arises from the dominant  Rajput culture and norms.

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