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Title: Plantations and Tribes : A Case Study of the Mannans in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala
Authors: Krishna, Anu
Keywords: Ritambhara Hebbar
School of Development Studies
Cardamom Hills
Cultivation and Plantation
Cultural Resistance
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: TISS
Abstract: Plantations are generally considered as spaces of production relations which involves large tracts of land, labour force and producing commercial crops. The major lacunae of such an understanding focused only on the economic relations in the plantations is that it evades to consider plantations as a mechanism which radiates vertical hierarchies of social and cultural relations along with the economic inequalities. The case of Mannans in the cardamom hills is an illustration of how plantations are not just a colonization over the flora and fauna of a place but also a cultural colonization over the existent vernacular diversity. While the plantation development has economically marginalized the Mannans in the cardamom hills because of being uprooted from their land, the settler migration to the place during the various phases of plantation development has relegated them socially, culturally, politically and demographically. Devoid of the land, resources or asset holdings, the Mannans gets absorbed as the casual labourers in the labour markets associated with plantations. The informal nature of their employment with no permanency of job, lower pay scales and lack of labour welfare schemes, makes them the invisible floating labour of the plantation industry in the place as they moves from one holdings to another in search of work. Even in these spaces where they sell their labour power for existence, in their own alienated territories; they becomes the ‘Other’ because of their identity of being a Mannan/Adivasi as against the fellow workers. Landlessness and economic dependency on the plantations has reduced them into various settlements across the district. While these settlements acts as constant source of labour to the neighboring plantations, they imprisons generations of the community in these spaces which acts as geographies of exception, frozen from the social, economic and cultural life of the bordering settler inhabited areas. The economic dependency over the plantations are reshaping the life of Mannans wherein their work schedules are not only altering their economic, cultural relations but even their social institutions such as family and their obligations towards it. Hence, the study depicts a case wherein a community which existed like an independent kingdom in the cardamom hills of Kerala got transformed into just bodies designated for productions relations, in the course of time when their lands were alienated and commercialized with the coming of plantations.
Appears in Collections:M.Phil.

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