Meenakshi Nair Ambujam

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva

Grant number

Gr. 9762

Approve Date

October 24, 2018

Project Title

Nair Ambujam, Meenakshi, Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland - To aid research on ''Landless with my Title-deed': Rethinking Restitution in Adivasi Life, Telangana (India),' supervised by Dr. Shaila Seshia Galvin

MEENAKSHI NAIR AMBUJAM, then a graduate student at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland, was awarded a grant in October 2018 to aid research on ”Landless with my Title-deed’: Rethinking Restitution in Adivasi Life, Telangana (India),’ supervised by Dr. Shaila Seshia Galvin. This research examines how and why conditions of post-restitution landlessness manifest among adivasis or tribal populations of Telangana, a federal state in India. Drawing attention specifically to adivasis who have in their possession title-deeds and other documentary artefacts such as the record of rights and the 1-B documents’which are outcomes of successful practices of restitution’who nonetheless remain devoid of the material possession of land, this research refines theoretical conceptualizations of dispossession. In doing so, the overarching argument advanced is that processes of restitution, through the production and circulation of these artefacts’ particularly titles’ perpetuate and sustain conditions of landlessness that they otherwise seek to remedy. The material quality of documentary artefacts has the capacity to not only render lands difficult to possess but also stretch and shrink them. As a result, a population of adivasis emerge who have been granted formal ownership rights to land’ through the award of the title’but remain unable to physically possess the land. This research therefore argues that contrary to established understandings of dispossession as a coercive strategy of redistribution, in contemporary times, dispossession manifests through representational and discursive modalities’ notably through the production and circulation of documentary artefacts.