The Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) project with MEAP aims to assess, catalog, and partially digitize materials that will help to better understand the political and cultural aspects of indigeneity in Jharkhand, India. The collection that the JNU has selected contains photographs and recorded materials as well as written works including letters, diaries, meeting minutes, political pamphlets, and publications. The written works are written in an array of languages, including English, Hindi, and tribal languages such as Kurukh. The materials are currently housed in the private residences of adivasi (local tribe) leaders of the Jharkhand movement as well as other institutions established by alike activists. The content dates from the early 20th century to present times.
The materials that make up this archive were selected due to the lack of archival records on adivasis histories. From the dominant colonial narrative, adivasis are marginalized communities with subsequently marginalized records. Recovering their unacknowledged history through digitization, adivasi voices are revealed and uncover their struggle for justice, human rights, and dignity. The authors of some of the materials have created unique works that stem from an academic point of view of adivasi advocacy. For instance, Dr. Nirmal Minz-- Bishop of the North Western GEL Church-- wrote to emphasize education and literary development in tribal languages as a part of adivasi identity.
Materials on indigeneity in India written during the 20th century are not widely available. Researchers of indigeneity movements in India have not been able to access private works on the subject, let alone those authored by leading adivasi intellectuals. These documents are often not included in the government archival record and are often from smaller, scattered collections. Gathering these materials in one archive will make accession more inclusive and easier to navigate.
As marginalized histories become more and more recognized in contemporary research, there is a stronger drift away from conventional officialized documents in order to explore a more diverse range of sources. The JNU’s efforts to uplift the adivasi rhetoric advocating for human justice as well as the visual representations of this movement are a big step in shifting the focus of this research.