Representing Indigenous Sacred Land: The Case of the Niyamgiri Movement in India
Radhika Borde & Bettina Bluemling2021
This paper analyses the representations of the religiosity of the indigenous Dongaria Kondh community in India by international and domestic activists. The Dongaria Kondhs live on and worship the Niyamgiri Mountain on top of which a bauxite mining project was planned. The community’s religiosity became the primary focus of what became known as the Niyamgiri Movement. Activists at local and international scales employed different representations of the Dongaria Kondhs’ religious relation with their land,
which facilitated different groups’ identification with the Dongarias’ religiosity, and consequently enhanced the support for the Niyamgiri Movement, which was ultimately successful. The paper uses Spivak’s theorisation of subalternity and Baudrillard’s theory of enchanted simulacra to conduct its analysis. It finds that the representational strategies of the Niyamgiri Movement created space for the Dongarias to voice themselves—in opposition to oppressive power structures and beyond the strategic narratives delineated by the activists who represented them.
Radhika Borde & Bettina Bluemling (2021) Representing Indigenous Sacred Land: The Case of the Niyamgiri Movement in India. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 32:1, 68-87,