Conference-Winterschool Amarkantak (2018)

Mutual UCC-IGRMS-IGNTU- winter school at the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU), Amarkantak, January 8th to 12th, 2018

Title of winter school

Endangered Cultures and Sustainability with special reference to Tribal and Folk communities in India


the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University  (IGNTU)

Co-organised by

Prof Dr Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri, Director of the Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya (Museum of Mankind), Bhopal, India

Prof. Ranju Hasini Sahoo, Departments of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, India

Dr hab Lidia Guzy, Marginalised and Endangered Worldviews Study Centre & India Study Centre Cork, University College Cork, National University of Ireland.

The Marginalised and Endangered Worldviews Study Centre (MEWSC) ( and the India Study Centre Cork (ISCC), at UCC, together with the Museum of Mankind, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya ( in Bhopal and the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University ([] in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, India, are co-organising an interdisciplinary winter school at the  Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh  from 8th to 12th January 2018.

The Idea

The topic and focus of the winter school is the study of forms of sustainable livelihoods and cultural resilience among tribal/ indigenous/folk people of India and beyond. The winter school seeks local models for a bio-cultural and ecological sustainability, vital for a viability of urban and non-urban livelihoods of contemporary modernity.

Particular focus will be drawn at the situation of tribal communities/indigenous/folk people of India however case studies from a comparative, global perspective on indigenous or folk studies are welcome.

 The dilemma

Even though indigenous rights violations and indigenous cultural vulnerability are globally addressed by NGOs such as Survival International since 1965 and since 1995 annually remembered at the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples as well as documented and deplored in multiple conferences on indigenous issues, such as the loss of endangered languages, endangered knowledge and endangered environments, the situation of indigenous peoples worldwide has not yet changed significantly.

An urgent ethical question for industrial and post-industrial societies is how to close the gap between indigenous / analogous knowledge systems and the rationalities of industrial and digital societies, governed by discourses on economic power, the exploitation of natural resources and the benefit and overall welfare of the human project. A deep dilemma undermines simultaneously the contemporary urge for humanity and welfare: its breach of indigenous and environmental rights to sustainable living as well the hegemonic worldviews’ incapacity of creating an imagination of interconnectedness between the indigenous, the urban, the human, the other-than-human, the earth and the cosmos.

During this winter school we would like to study tribal and folk communities whose cultures are endangered by modernity and the economic growth model. The winter school questions the lack of feedback of indigenous peoples into mainstream colonial settler societies (see Bell, 2014) with special reference to tribal and folk communities in India. The winter school aims at expressing and translating tribal, indigenous and folk communities’ worldviews on sustainable earth and future into intellectual advice on cultural, ecological and social justice informing Higher Educational Institutions to include the translation in the form of syllabus and curricula and to the policy makers and legal practitioners of India and beyond for the protection of their culture, thereby their life and livelihood.

Based on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, the winter school addresses violations of indigenous peoples’ rights worldwide and creatively develops answers and democratic tools to include indigenous worldviews and voices into mainstream imagination.

The value of indigenous knowledge

Indigenous knowledge has been strongly valuated by the anthropological appraisal of indigenous knowledge systems capable of tackling national eco-politics (Conklin/ Graham 1995: 695-710) and rethinking culture specific and scientific rationalities (Agrawal 1995: 413–439; Stabinsky/Brush 1996). Indigenous knowledge is generally assumed as the “traditional knowledge” of a group in a particular environmental and social situation, which is understood as local, orally-transmitted, practical and empirical (Ellen / Harris 2000: 2) thus context-bound and community-specific. Indigenous knowledge designates the traditional ecological (Choudhury 1980; Chakraborty 1986) or medical knowledge (Shukla /Gardner 2006) of local communities.

In this winter school we suggest focusing on this local knowledge in order to tackle global issues of a sustainable, culturally and ecologically shared human and non-human existence.

The winter school engages with analogous/indigenous worldviews and knowledge systems of tribal and folk people of India and beyond in a way which has been missing in attempts to include indigenous peoples’ voices into mainstream policies, thinking and higher education.

Guest Lecturers at winter school, IGNTU

Indian scholars, international scholars and UCC scholars.

Following topics will be covered:

1) sustainability (biological, cultural, ecological) in general

2) folk culture in general

3) tribal /indigenous and/or folk Indian cultures in particular.

Please email your interest/title(s) to co-ordinators:

Prof. Ranju Hasini Sahoo: and

Dr hab Lidia Guzy:


UCC and international lecturers travel to India on their own institutional or private funding; local hospitality such as housing and food will be covered by IGRMS, Bhopal.


A programme of 3 days intensive lectures at the winter school will be published as soon as the titles of presenters are finalised; a 2 days visit to Baiga Villages, Amarkantak and Pusparajgarh block of Anuppur district of Madhya Pradesh, etc. will be drafted.

Target group:

Indian students, UCC Irish students, other international students (from European partner universities)


Cited literature:

Agrawal, Arun 1995. Dismantling the Divide between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge In Development and Change, Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 413–439, July 1995 ;

Bell, Avril Relating indigenous and settler identities : beyond domination New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014

Chakraborty, S. B. 1986. Around the Plough. Socio-cultural Context of Agricultural Farming in an Indian Village. Kolkata: Anthropological Survey of India.

Choudhury, Roy B. C. 1980. The Moon and Net: A Study of Transient Community of Marine Fishermen of Jambudwip. Kolkata: Anthropological Survey of India.

Conklin, Beth A. and Laura R. Graham 1995. The Shifting Middle Ground: Amazonian Indians and Eco-Politics In American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 97, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 695-710;

Ellen, Roy / Holly Harris 2000. Introduction. In Roy Ellen / Peter Parkes / Alan Bicker (eds.), Indigenous Environmental Knowledge and its Transformations. Critical Anthropological Perspectives. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1-33.

Shukla, Shailesh / James Gardner 2006. Local Knowledge in Community-based Approaches to Medicinal Plant Conservation: Lessons from India. In Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2006, 2:20, accessible online: (

Stabinsky, Doreen and Stephen B. Brush (edited) Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People And Intellectual Property, Part  1996 Island Press.