Adivasi Insurgencies and Power in Colonial India


  • Sutapa Chattopadhyay University of Minnesota, Duluth, Department of Geography



colonization, Adivasi resistance, scientific forestry, socio-cultural practices, power relations


Dramatic or mundane, passive or active, confrontations and negotiations, over natural resources, between the colonizer and the colonized manifest repudiation, uprisings, rebellions and even organized violent confrontationist movements. The basis of scientific forestry that allowed the state to commercially exploit the forests, putting curbs on the local use of subsistence, led to the formation of covert and unfair colonial forest management policies which were the reasons for Adivasi retaliation. The discourses on Adivasi resistance and scientific forestry have constituted a major concern for historians, sociologists, political thinkers and critical geographers, particularly those who are keen to delve into the universal urge of the oppressed towards liberation. Departing from the conventional understanding of resistance, I am keen to re-think the notions of resistance that can be applied to a much wider range of socio-cultural practices, taking into account the ways in which the subjectivity of the dominated is constrained, modified and conditioned by power relations. Therefore, through a detailed archival analysis of Adivasi insurgencies and colonial power, I conceptualize the entangled nature of power, knowledge and resistance. The rich variety of Adivasi (everyday) modes of resistance and unwillingness to submit to colonial exploitation/modernization contradicts the political conclusions derived from Foucault’s analysis of power. What Adivasi struggles demonstrate is that power, in producing the people that we are, is both productive and repressive.


How to Cite

Chattopadhyay, S. (2015). Adivasi Insurgencies and Power in Colonial India. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 11(1), 55–80.