The Tribal-Forest Nexus in Law and Society in India

The Tribal-Forest Nexus in Law and Society in India: Conflicting Narratives

Author: Bert Suykens


This article examines two conflicting narratives concerning the relationship between tribals and forests in India - narratives that have been counterpoised in India at least since colonial times. The first narrative sees tribals as the natural protectors of the forest; the second argues that tribal practices are detrimental to forest conservation. The author investigates how these two representations of Indian tribals have shaped and are still shaping legal and societal relations between tribals and forests. The author shows how these narratives are deeply embedded in Indian forest legislation and how local officials, rights activists, and tribals themselves all make selective use of the two narratives to gain or deny access to forest resources.

Regions: South Asia
Countries: India

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September 2009
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