Texts and Performative Tradition: Tribal Festivals in the Perspectives of Tribalism, De-colonisation and Globalization in Eastern India

Authors: Sumahan Bandyopadhyay (Department of Anthropology, Vidyasagar University, India)
Doyel Chatterjee (Department of English, Dumdum Motijheel Rabindra Mahavidyalaya, India)
Speakers: Sumahan Bandyopadhyay, Doyel Chatterjee
Topic: Textualization, Contextualization, Entextualization
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


A number of tribal communities exist in Eastern India consisting, and mainly of the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. These communities include the Munda, Bhumij, Kora, Lodha, Sabar, Mahali, and the Santal, which is the largest tribal group in eastern India and the third largest in the country. Tribes exhibit unique cultural traditions despite their sharing cultural elements, a process which positions the tribes as having regional tribal traditions. This regional tribal tradition is likely most manifest in festivals and rituals, along with cultural texts such as songs, dances, and narratives, frequently rooted in religious beliefs and practices that reflect a ‘Nature-Man-Spirit.’ An effective study would thus observe the functional, structural and symbolic aspects of the performances of texts of these tribes.

Therefore, this study investigates the performative tradition of texts of these tribal communities, and unfurls the features of tribal culture in this period of de-colonisation and globalization. The paper suggests a model of tribal – nontribal interactions, which occur in stages, based on the types of exchanges between tribes.

The observed cultural texts evidence interactions between tribal and nontribal communities, particularly in Eastern India, and evidence emerging identities post colonialism in India. From a structural understanding, and through a formalist paradigm, this colonialism has emerged through performatively. Processes of de-colonisation and globalization have sharpened development of tribalism and their development of cultural texts in recent years.

The paper thus suggests that connections among tribalism, de-colonisation and globalization are essential for advancing the theoretical and methodological significance of texts and performances in cultural studies.

Keywords: Tribe, Text, Performance, Tribalism, De-colonisation, Globalization, India