Meenakshi Nair Ambujam
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationGraduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva
Grant numberGr. 9762
Approve DateOctober 24, 2018
Project TitleNair 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.