The Indigenous Adivasi Janajati peoples of India and Nepal see the land the live on differently than the states that mostly see a resource to be administrated. Working alongside these peoples, Anudeep seeks to illustrate how Adivasi Janajati communities live on the land, and create and maintain their relationship with it. With this comparative, cross-border work, Anudeep hopes to decenter 'the state' and center the discourse back on the Indigenous populations. 

Research Description

My research explores how shifting legal and political frameworks have changed the relationships of Indigenous (Adivasi Janajati) peoples to their territories and land, both within Nepal and beyond its borders. There have been several changes in structures of governance and administration in the last few decades in both Nepal and India, but for both states, land remains a resource to be mapped, regulated, taxed, and extracted, dispossessing people from their territory. I enter into this broader enquiry through an ethnographic study of how Adivasi Janajati communities in Eastern Nepal have continued to articulate their knowledge of and forge relationships to land in the present day in relation to the contemporary political, legal, and administrative structures in which they must live. The same question can be asked across the border in Darjeeling, India that has a shared socio-cultural history with eastern Nepal mediated by colonialism and migration.Through a multi-sited ethnography and oral history methods, my research will offer a comparative and cross-border analysis, centering Indigenous land-based relationships and decentering the nation-state as a monolithic framework.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

To me, being a Public Scholar means making knowledge produced within the academic space accessible to different publics. It means producing collaborative knowledge that has meaningful outcomes beyond academia and is centered around accountability to the community that I work with.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

The Public Scholars Initiative is a wonderful opportunity for PhD scholars to engage in meaningful scholarship. Through PSI, PhD scholars are encouraged to think of innovative and creative ways to make their work accessible, meaningful and relevant for communities they work with. In addition, PSI enables fellows to build strong collaborative relationships with other scholars through various networking opportunities, which is highly valuable for scholars like me.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

My PhD work, I hope, will equip me with the research skills needed for me to continue advocating for equitable policies for Indigenous, caste-oppressed and marginalized peoples. My PhD work has also opened avenues for me to connect and build strong relationships with other Indigenous scholars in Nepal, engaging in collective social justice and advocacy work and collaborative projects. I hope to continue doing that in the future.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

I plan to develop an intergenerational oral and visual history project that brings together young community members from different Indigenous and class backgrounds in both Bhojpur and Darjeeling to uncover their family and personal histories and contemporary relationships with land. I plan to collaborate with organizations who have been engaged in archiving photographs and oral history to conduct workshops on visual and oral history with them as a way of revealing multiple intertwined histories of land use in context with the larger political histories.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

As an Indigenous person myself, my research area is not only an academic and professional endeavor, but an area that I am invested in, personal and politically. My goal with research is to be able to advocate for communities that I come from and work with, and center their needs with this research. I hope to center embodied and localized understandings of land that can be critical for land rights advocacy and equitable land-related policies. Furthermore, I hope to amplify hidden and unwritten histories that community members are eager to make available to the larger public through archiving and circulation of these histories.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have found social science research to be a powerful means for advocating for rights for Indigenous and marginalized communities. A doctoral degree in the social sciences, particularly Anthropology, was a great way for me to train as a researcher and continue working with my communities, while also learning from scholars who have decades of scholarly engagement in the regions and themes that my research focuses on.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

I chose to pursue my doctoral education in the Anthropology department at UBC because I saw that my research would be well supported here. Dr. Sara Shneiderman’s work on territoriality, ethnicity and mobility in Nepal and Darjeeling – informed by her long term, deep engagement in Nepal – has been crucial to my understanding of my research area and methods. I had the opportunity to meet her at the South Asia Conference of the Pacific Northwest (SACPAN) in 2018 (at UBC) and 2019 (at UW), after which I considered UBC to be a good place to pursue my further studies. I am fortunate to be well-supported with her as my supervisor here. UBC is also home to scholars and faculty members whose work centers the themes of Indigenous land rights and titles, oral history, global Indigenous rights and sovereignty. It is a huge privilege to be in a program and university that is at the forefront of Indigenous Studies. Further, the Himalayan Studies Program at UBC is a resourceful space for connecting with scholars who have similar personal and professional ties to the region.