This book is about cultural politics and the quest for identity of two marginal communities of Sikkim and Darjeeling – the Lepcha and the Mangar. Sharing insights into the knowledge, aesthetics, aspirations and dreams of two marginal communities who have been innovatively and differentially appropriating ‘culture’ to exploit the politics of difference, it is a narrative about their ethno-cultural consciousness, notions of identity and anxieties over being minority communities in a pluralistic democracy. The narrative is essentially presented in the form of a field-trip diary, with observations and comments which try to situate the issues within a larger perspective. Based on two years of intensive field study, the book chronicles the endeavour of these two communities to reclaim their cultural past, and forge an identity that would ensure material security, self-esteem, dignity and also the fruits of ‘modernity’.
The book will be useful to scholars and students of anthropology, sociology, politics and history, especially those engaged in the study of culture and ethnicity in the Eastern Himalayan region.
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