New civil society research on indigenous languages and cultures in India

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Professors Paul Chaney and Sarbeswar Sahoo (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) have secured a new Global Challenge grant from the Academy of Medical Sciences and are commencing a project examining civil society and indigenous languages and cultures in India. They will be working in association with Dr Reenu Punnoose (Indian Institute of Technology, Palakkad).

The new study includes the Bhil in Rajasthan and Irula tribes of Kerala. The Bhils are one of the oldest tribes in India and speak a language of Dravidian origin. Irula are the second largest tribe in Kerala. They live in the Attappady region of Palakkad District. The Irula language is an independent Southern Dravidian language that is akin to Tamil.

The new research will explore the issues, challenges and lessons that emerge from civil society action to support indigenous languages and cultures. Attention will also be given to the intersection between language and religion, and intergenerational aspects of language and culture.

Civil Society and Citizenship in India and Bangladesh - book coverThe new study follows earlier work by Chaney and Sahoo exploring civil society and citizenship in India and Bangladesh. This examined gender rights and social identities, and the contrasting experiences of democracy, discrimination and inequality faced by different groups and communities. The findings are presented in Sarbeswar, S. and Chaney, P. (2021) Civil Society and Citizenship in India and Bangladesh, London, New York, New Delhi, Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN 9789389611366.


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