Culture, Heritage, and Identity : The Lepcha and Mangar Communities of Sikkim and Darjeeling

Dr Nandini Bhattacharyya Panda

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This book is about cultural politics and the quest for identity of two marginal communities of Sikkim and Darjeeling – the Lepcha and the Mangar. Sharing insights into the knowledge, aesthetics, aspirations and dreams of two marginal communities who have been innovatively and differentially appropriating ‘culture’ to exploit the politics of difference, it is a narrative about their ethno-cultural consciousness, notions of identity and anxieties over being minority communities in a pluralistic democracy. The narrative is essentially presented in the form of a field-trip diary, with observations and comments which try to situate the issues within a larger perspective. Based on two years of intensive field study, the book chronicles the endeavour of these two communities to reclaim their cultural past, and forge an identity that would ensure material security, self-esteem, dignity and also the fruits of ‘modernity’.

The book will be useful to scholars and students of anthropology, sociology, politics and history, especially those engaged in the study of culture and ethnicity in the Eastern Himalayan region.

Dr Nandini Bhattacharyya Panda Nandini Bhattacharyya-Panda is a fellow of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS). She completed her doctorate from University of Oxford. Her book entitled Appropriation and Invention of Tradition: The East India Company and Hindu Law in Early Colonial Bengal (OUP, Delhi) had several reprints. She is the author of several articles, including in The Blackwell Companion to Religion and Violence (Wiley Blackwell, New York, Oxford). She is engaged in research on culture, ethnicity, law and gender in the Indian perspective.


Preface and Acknowledgements


1. Locating Identity: The Historical Backdrop
2. Lepcha Community: The Ignoble ‘Savage’
3. Present Perceptions and Pursuits: Cultural Politics of the Lepcha Community
4. Mangar Community: ‘Brave Warriors’ of the British Empire
5. Changing Perceptions of the Cultural Heritage and Identity: An Uneasy Transition
6. Voices from the Hills: The Field Trips
7. The Location of ‘Culture’: Memory and History
8. A Resume: Culture, Heritage and Identity: Beyond Ethnographic Subjecthood
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