21. Is Adivasi religion different from Hinduism?
Indigenous Religious Traditions in Five Minutes - Molly Bassett
William Elison [+]
University of California, Santa Barbara
William Elison is associate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. An ethnographer and historian, he specializes in the religions of modern South Asia. He is the author of The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai (University of Chicago Press, 2018), and is currently at work on a short history of Mumbai for Cambridge University Press.
A response to the previous piece, this essay complicates the historical push-pull dynamic between Adivasi groups and forces of Hinduization, which has gained fresh salience in today's Hindu nationalist India. As in many other places, in India, religion gives shape to Indigenous communities' claims to ancestral territories. To identify a local deity as a Hindu god is thus to threaten its worshippers' claim to cultural particularity—and ultimately, to Indigeneity itself.