ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Adivasis and the Anthropological Gaze

Through the display of material culture, museums invoke not only an imagined Adivasi past, but also a fossilised vision of their cultural present. While these museums tend to fulfil a pedagogical function through the display of material cultural objects, the implicit ideology behind these exhibits has not received the attention it deserves in India. Why do ethnographic museums choose to display predominantly select groups like the tribals? Why not also display upper-caste women and men and their lifeworld? Here is where politics of representation becomes inextricably intertwined with ethnographic displays in museums. This article explores the dynamics of the anthropological gaze and how it has contributed to the construction of the Adivasis as the exotic cultural other.

Cultural Elites and the Disciplining of Bhavai

Bhavai, an ancient form of Gujarati folk-theatre, functioned as a counter-voice in a society marked by caste and class distinctions, by subverting the social norms of the cultural elite. Gradually, the Gujarati elites began intervening to discipline and domesticate it for urban as well as non-urban audiences. Post- Independence, experimental theatre groups too attempted this reconstitution through exoticisation and production of "difference" between the folk and the elite. This paper explores and interrogates the assumption that folk-theatre like the Bhavai can be disciplined and transposed unproblematically to urban and non-urban audiences. Bhavai as folk-theatre is located in a set of temporal and spatial prerequisites. Divested of these conditions Bhavai ceases to be what it is.

Gandhi and the Standardisation of Gujarati

The process of linguistic standardisation usually sets up one dialect as the yardstick to judge the correctness of a language. It not only relegates other dialects to the periphery but also actively produces and reproduces structures of inequalities. Gandhi initiated a systematic effort to standardise the Gujarati language in the 1920s through the Gujarat Vidyapith which published a dictionary with a set of rules for correct Gujarati writing. It is this form of Gujarati that has been recognised by the state government as the standard language. This article explores the notion of language standardisation and the inherent inequalities within that process, the context of Gujarati standardisation, Gandhi's role in it, and the problems and contestations involved in the linguistic standardisation in Gujarat.

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