Dr. Rimi Tadu (TISS, Mumbai)

The Meaning Making State (nation-state): The History of State Experience among the Tanii Community of Arunachal Pradesh

01 August 2017 – 30 November 2017

This research investigates how the Indian state assimilates and subsumes people and transforms them into subjects. What are the ways the states makes its existence a tangible reality and a self sustaining/re-generating operative system? During her PhD project among the Apatani community, the fellow realised the shift in narrative of the historicity of the people about their past, while working on the local history of an event called the Kure Chambyo, the first organised and violent conflict between the community and the Indian State military. The narratives that were coming from the field, instead of being a simple re-calling and re-telling process of past and experiences, turned out to be projected narratives that were undoing the event narrative. People used their stories and expressions as a disclaimer or to state their distance from the event. The national integration policy of the government, the Panchsheel principles of late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and various infrastructural developments to bring all the ethnic communities in the region closer to India became pervasive. It became pervasive over people’s articulation and expressions, at least in public, about the past and their recalling of the Kure Chambyo.
Such shift in narratives point towards the shift in the perspectives as well. The community that was autonomous with least interaction with outsiders until the late 1940s, has transformed itself into law abiding state citizens within a short period. The pervasive presence of the state is evident in both public spaces and even at private and cognitive level. The new lived reality and its experience under the state system has altered the narratives and their interpretation of the past. Remembering and recounting, unlike memory, is a cognitive, more conscious and active process. Their articulation, thus, involves complex process of choices, reframing and filtering. The agency and authorship of the nation state in the narratives of Kure Chambyo are clearly evident. Thus, the state as an opinion building institution is also a meaning making system. This study thus tries to look at these modes of the State through which it creates its experience and meanings- as an authority, law generating, and guiding institution. Moreover, it determines and demands ideological morality, coerces obedience, determines our reality, and acts as a prophetic mechanism. In short: how the State system and ideology socialises non-state people.


Rimi Tadu recently finished her PhD from TISS Mumbai and the Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, on the history of an event called Kure Chambyo among the Apatani community. She was working in development sector for the past few years on various issues related to rights to livelihood and shelter in slum communities, women’s political empowerment through electoral processes, sustainable and people centric developmental plans, Dalit and tribal women’s rights, etc. Her research interest includes newer, interdisciplinary and more people centric history writing methodologies, such as oral history, indigenous history writing, ethno-history, subaltern history, tribal and Adivasi studies, tribal feminism and Dalit Devadasi women’s realities. After her current fellowship in Delhi she will also have a three-month follow-up fellowship at the MW Kolleg at Erfurt (2018).

2017, ‘Engendering tribal land rights for gendering the land: A case study among Apatani and Nyishi communities. Prem Chowdhry (Ed.). Understanding women’s land rights: Gender discrimination in ownership. Land Reforms in India: Volume 13. New Delhi: Sage Publication, 59-87.
2017, ‘The philosopher’s for NEFA: Revisiting ‘The philosophy for NEFA’ through the experiences of the Apatanis’, in: Alex Akhup (ed.), Identities and their struggles in North East. Tribal and Adivasi Studies Series Vol. 1. Kolkata: Tribal Intellectual Collective of India and Adivani, 105-150.
2017, ‘Revisiting the first colonial visit to Tanii land of 1897’: in: Dree Souvenir (ed.), Our culture our pride. Itanagar: Capital Complex Dree Festival Committee.
2017 (forthcoming), ‘Doing Oral History among indigenous and oral communities: Dealing with rigors and ethics Tribal Intellectual Collective of India 4 (3) To be re-published in: Virginius Xaxa (ed.), Tribal and Adivasi Epistemology: Perspectives from within.
2015, ‘Apatani christianity community: The roles of state, culture and faith in formation of Apatani Christian community’, in: Alphonso D’Souza, Lalnghakthuami and Pangernungba Kechu (eds.), Family and Clan in North East India: Reflections by Christian Scholars. Guwahati: North East Social Research Centre.