Agency and Minority groups: A Linguistic Anthropology of Tribal Communities

Authors: Debasis Patnaik (BITS Pilani K K Birla Goa Campus, India)
Speakers: Debasis Patnaik
Strand: Sociolinguistics
Session Type: General Session


This paper aims to identify the ties and cultural practices of certain Indian tribes like the Sabaras and the Mundas. Their economic contribution and living conditions are impressive. These tribes are predominantly agricultural. Economic initiatives in earlier years have prompted no strong response in both tribes, owing to their steadfast adherence to tribal customs and practices. The Sabara tribe’s sustenance and survival revolve around the land and forest.They mainly depend on slash and burn cultivation, shifting and terrace cultivation. The Munda tribe is laregly localised in Khunti, Jharkhand. They too are agriculture and forest dependent tribe. Moreover, poorer economic conditions prompted parts of the population to migrate. Studies have been made with regard to work division and culture between the men and the women, resulting in possibility of inadequate production. In the analysis, usage of basic econometric methods will be done based on the limited data available openly on respective ministry sites and published papers. The focus will be on the migration as a result of poor economic conditions, agricultural involvement and spread, literacy levels, population growth and the religious and gender related aspects of the respective tribes. Using statistical data with respect to health, education and income of both the tribes, an attempt is made to correlate these factors and the tribe’s economic status. In the process aspects of their languages like kinship terms, conversation pattern, loan words etc are highlighted. Efforts of administration to spread literacy awareness and acquired proficiency levels are analysed. Their realization that education leads to empowerment is a heartening feature.

Keywords: Tribes, Empowerment, Education, Traditions, Kinship terms, Vocabulary