The Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) held an extension lecture on 6th March, 2023 to commemorate International Women’s Day, on the topic “Engagement with Marginality: Women and Tribes in India”. The lecture commenced with a welcome address by the Head of Department, Prof. Manisha T. Pandey who briefly introduced the renowned and revered professor of tribal studies in India, Prof. Virginius Xaxa, who was the speaker of the occasion, mentioning his various accolades, achievements and academic publications. Currently, Prof. Xaxa is a visiting professor at the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi.
The lecture was largely divided into three sections, focusing on (i) the idea of marginality; (ii) situating tribes as a marginal group; and (iii) issues of inequality. The speaker highlighted how marginality finds its roots in social exclusion because of lack of access to wealth, prestige and power, which are certain quintessential values that social integration and societal esteem is premised on.
The talk illuminated how marginality is a historical process and how it is produced is a point of contention amongst scholastic circles which need to be addressed through embarking an inquisitive process that unfolds the nuances under the historical antecedents that breed and perpetuate forms of marginality. In post-colonial India, the efforts to include and integrate the various tribal communities under the purview of the Indian State through representation schemes, wherein, efforts of inclusions were made through the state and not through appropriate social systems which were required for this herculean task. Prof. Xaxa shed light on how tribal populations make up for the large chunk of the population below the poverty line.
Prof. Xaxa further highlighted the presence of gender inequalities amongst tribes, regarding how these get aggravated over time as they are inculcated within the mainstream. His study reflects how a large chunk of tribal women still happen to be in the informal sector. His lecture drew links with the questions concerning the autonomy of tribal women in the discourse of feminism.
The captivating and insightful lecture was followed by an interactive session wherein faculty and the attending scholars and students posed questions. It concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Gomati H. Bodra.