ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Religion and Social 'Subversion': Re-examining Colonial Orissa

Two major tribal resistance movements in colonial Orissa - the Mahima movement and the Munda rebellion - are discussed in this paper. Critical of the elitist approach of the Subaltern Studies group which depicts tribal/peasant revolts as "autonomous" and marked by "territoriality", this paper argues how these two movements transgressed the boundaries ascribed to them. Both the movements strategically employed a discourse of equality to fight their immediate oppressors. The Mahima movement represented an anti-caste, monotheistic order that sought to delegitimise the rajas and the brahmins. Similarly, the Munda protest (that was led by the Mundas who had converted to Christianity) in 1939 opposed the princely state of Gangpur and also confronted colonialism. In discussing these movements, the essay aims to delineate the fascinating aspects of popular imagination even as it highlights some of the limitations of the two uprisings.


Religion and Social ‘Subversion’: Re-examining Colonial Orissa

Biswamoy Pati

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