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In the Shadows of the State


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Prologue 1
1. The Dark Side of Indigeneity 9
2. Not Just Ghosts: Democracy as Sacral Polity 36
3. Shadowy Practices: Development as Corruption 66
4. Dangerous Silhouettes: Elephants, Sacrifice, and Alcohol 99
5. Night Escape: Eco-incarceration, Purity, and Sex 130
6. The Terror Within: Revolution against the State? 162
Epilogue: Arcadian Spaces beyond the Shadows of the State 184
Glossary of Terms 191
Notes 193
Bibliography 237
Index 265

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An argument that well-meaning indigenous rights and development claims and interventions may misrepresent and hurt the very people they seek to help, based on extensive ethnographic research in eastern India

About the Author

Alpa Shah is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.


"Alpa Shah's book is an engaged and exceptionally lively account of the intersection between the 'everyday state' and the people of one of India's most marginalized 'tribal' areas. A major contribution to the regional literature, her sometimes counterintuitive, often sobering, but always compelling analysis richly deserves the attention of anyone interested in the politics of indigeneity and its uneasy relationship with class politics and with left-wing activism."oJonathan Parry, London School of Economics "Presenting a sophisticated analysis of original empirical material based on sensitive long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Alpa Shah directly challenges existing frameworks in and beyond academic anthropology, and she provides important new perspectives on indigenous governance, development, the anthropology of the state, corruption and local democracy, the politics of conservation, and environmental and Maoist movements. In the Shadows of the State demonstrates the value of critical ethnography; it is likely to be read as an exemplar."oDavid Mosse, author of Cultivating Development: An Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice "In the Shadows of the State is an important, original, thoughtful, and beautifully written book. I have no doubt that it will be considered the single most important account we have of state-society relations in Jharkhand. It is also a remarkably erudite and properly critical account of the production and use of 'indigeneity' and 'development' as social constructions that can contribute to the domination of poor rural Jharkhandis. Its significance ranges far beyond India."oStuart Corbridge, co-author of Jharkhand: Environment, Development, Ethnicity "In the Shadows of the State is a fine and unusual study of indigenous politics, culture, and activism, which will be of interest to students of India as well as of the cultural politics of indigeneity elsewhere in the world. Alpa Shah provides a robust and non-sentimental ethnography of the realities and contradictions of tribal life, and a powerful critique of the practices of the state, NGOs, and the highly vocal middle-class activists who promote preservation of both natural resources and pristine tribal life."oThomas Blom Hansen, co-editor of States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State

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