Vol. 9, No. 1 (2013): 141–160.
This paper is about the identity formation of an ethnic group – the Munda of Bangladesh. The key issue of this paper is how the Munda identity has been constructed by the state and by the development agencies, covering historical as well as current trends. Throughout colonial and postcolonial periods in the academic and policy discourse, the Munda/Adibashi were represented as “primitive,” “backward” and “underdeveloped.” Here, I argue that the images contribute to the making of the “category” of Adibashi as “primitive,” “backward” or “underdeveloped” are actually a perception, not a representation of reality. The representation of Munda identity articulated by the academician or the development practitioner ignores the complexities, dynamism and history of these people.
Shaila Sharmeen is associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She obtained her PhD from Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. She did ethnographic fieldwork among the Munda – an ethnic community of Barind Region during her PhD research. Her research interests include culture studies, gender, politics and anthropology of development.