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

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Inequality in Rural Nagaland

Changing Structures and Mechanisms

Tribal villages are usually perceived to be the egalitarian counterparts to villages in India that are ruled by hierarchical caste structures. Taking the case of Ao Naga villages, clan rank and class are found to be important for understanding the changing structures of inequality. Today, these villages are deeply integrated into the larger milieus: politics, administration, education and the market economy. The social mechanisms responsible for inequality are now to a large degree centred outside the village, and living in a village has become almost identical with a lower social status. One result of this process is that instead of clan ranks, the access to outside resources forms the basis of social inequality within the village. Based on secondary sources as well as original fieldwork, an account of how this integration leads to class differentiations at the village level is presented.

This research was partly made possible through the funding of my PhD through the “Berlin Funding for Graduates” (Elsa-Neumann-Stipendium des Landes Berlin), Germany. I thank the anonymous reviewer from EPW for the very helpful comments on the fi rst version of this paper that helped to focus my arguments. I would also like to thank S S Jodhka from the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Boike Rehbein from the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, as well as Imsutoshi Longkumer and Onenkala for their critical remarks. I claim responsibility for any errors.

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