Sunday, March 29, 2009

Factual Errors on North East India's discourse

The colonial ethnographers and Christian missionaries were the earliest scholars who represented tribal culture with their European terms and pronunciations. Numerous literatures on tribal cultural history were produced by colonial ethnographers and Christian Missionaries like A.Z Makenzie, JH Hutton, J.Shakepear, N.E Parry, J.H Mills, J.M Lloyd, J.H Lorrain. Habitually, colonial and missionary’ terms/terminologies were ethnocentric in nature.

In recent period, some scholars (trained indigenous) feel the burden of these ethnocentric terms and various efforts have been made on the decolonization of these local names/ terminologies.In case of Mizoram, colonial names have been changed - Lusei, instead of Lushai, Maras instead of Lakher and Aizawl instead of Aijal. However, in many of the recent discourses (including official discourse) made by non locals both at the national and international levels are extremely ignorant on local language/terminologies. The capital of Mizoram, Aizawl is misspelt as Aizwal in news papers, academic discourses and even at airports. There has been repeated failure to run a correction, even after being asked.

This is also evident in the academic field. For instance, one of the most popular referee’s journals of Modern Asian Studies in 1987 writes “The Negroids, who came from south and south-west China, are the present Nagas of Nagaland.” (B. P. Singh; North-East India: Demography, Culture and Identity Crisis, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2. (1987), pp. 257-282.) Surprisingly, the editorial boards (including some Indian professor) has failed to notice that the Naga tribes belong to the mongoloid group of Tibeto-Burman. No correction was made even in the continuous issues. Such an ignorance has for a long time dominated the North East discourse scenario which damages image of the people and their culture. Naga Students’ Federation (not the insurgency groups) who had forbidden a non-Naga to write on Naga history without their prior approval clearly indicates how people contested against such academic imperialism. (Prabhakara, 2003).

it would be nice to hear your responses regarding this issue. What we can do to make it better for accurate representation? etc...


Photos:
http://www.travelmadeeasy.in/northeast-main.jpg
http://www.angloindiago.com/gifs/map-north-east.gif

37 comments:

Raldawna said...

Rightly said. I remember last time there was a book on Mizo customs by some people ( i won't called them scholars because it seems they copied the majority of their work from Parry's book)without verifying fact published by Mittal. They were not troubled that much as the NSF do.

While parochialization of academia is dangerous, at least a healthy regard for solid sound facts should be encouraged. The only thing that i can think at the moment is we have to do our best and start writing and contesting such horrible claims in academic and other public sphere. Most of the people I've seen are ignorant and don't know what is true. Also, there is a lack of good, dependable books from us. Fly-by-night researchers (most of them NGO's who have their own fish and way of frying) just unscrupulously copy them from the books like the one mentioned in the article. To borrow a word from American academic circle: Publish or perish seems to the only refrain for us at the moment.

vana said...

This is an important topic. A representation of sort in the form of writing on a reputed journal by scholars in this field is very important. As a matter of fact we all have the freedom to write, but not interpret history from our own point.

illusionaire said...

Forget Aizawl being misspelt as Aizwal even today, the freaking Election Commission of India website wrote Mizoram as Misszoram!

Google Search Result: Misszoram

Philo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philo said...

Facticity itself seems problematic. Its not that 'indigenous' scholars have a squarer grasp of something collapsed as 'fact' than the 'colonial' writers. All that so-called indigenes may do is to provide a more nuanced backdrop for identifying the politics at play in the act of naming.

EPISTEMOLOGY said...

Raldawna, Vana, Illusionaire,Philo: Thank you all for your visits and thoughtful comments! The issue here is not about the accuracy of historical facts. Historical as other historical reports and ipso facto always doubtful. There are too many noticeable writing errors in discourse that need to be corrected.

chhangte_ll said...

Khawilai Vaipa 'Ph.D/M'Phi.' Thesis hmuhnana anlo sipeling sual anih dawn hi. British ho pawh kha an danglam chuang bik lo e.

EPISTEMOLOGY said...

chhangte_II: dik khawp mai, vawikhat chu kan Prof pakhat hming hi ka ziak dik lova, min hau va, hetiang hming te phei chu ziah sual loh hrim hrim tur a ti a. Ka ngaihtuah chhuah chu, Mizoram Capital Aizawl pawh an ziak dik ngai lo a ni si a..!

Puia said...

Thianpa, a he thil hi a ngaihmawh awm khawp mai. Mizote hi kan ngaih a sam thin a, ngaihmawh tur hi action lamah kan thla a tliak deuh thin em chu aw a tih theih a. Aizawl pawi rei tak Aijol a ni a, Aizawl a nih tawh hnuah pawh AIZWAL a ni reng a, tunah pawh hi a la ni rengin a lang.

Tin, Sap (english) ho hian Hnam dang tawng leh hming te hi an mahni koh thiam dan tura an tawnga ziak an ching hle a. Tuna English emaw kan tih tam tak hi a lo ni hauh lo mai a. John Calvin ringawt pawh kha a original french JEAN kha english hovin JOHN an lo tih avangin kan zawng buai nasa hle reng kha a ni a. Kan pu Vanhnuailiana pawh Vonolel an ti a. Lallula pawh Lalloo an ti a. Heng te hi an record dan a nih avangin tun hnu hian a buaithlak duh khawp mai.

Tin, keinin english thumal (word) emaw kan tih tak thil hming tam tak hi French leh German etc.. a tam hle mai a. Mahse, an mahni original ziahdan nen erawh a inang lo deuh vek thung a.

Lusei tih leh Lushai tihah tak hi chuan ngaihdan chihnih a awm thei a. Pu Buanga kha chuan keini english ho chuan Lushai kan tih hial Lushai hills zawng zawnga cheng te kan sawina a ni a, Lusei kan tih erawh chuan lusei clan (Duhlian) ho kan sawina a ni thung, a ti khan ka hria a.

faka said...

It is indeed irritating to see such errors in spelling Mizo names, etc. Our history as a whole needs to be re-written from a post-colonial perspsective as well.

avena said...

amen!! i rawn tar lan hi a vei awm khawp mai, nang niin han ti tak tak teh u.

Zaia said...

Hei chu thu tak tak a ni. Aizwal tih reng bik mai, train leh air tickets etc. ah... a ninawm zozai.

EPISTEMOLOGY said...

Puia: A dik khawp mai. Hetiang siamthat zel hi hnam chanchin zirtute tihtur tak a ni.

Faka:It is more irritating to see those recurrent mistake especially at airport or railway station.

Avena: theihtawp chhuaha siamthat hi tul takzet. Hma kan la zel ang chu.:)

zaia: ni e, a bikin official deuhah hi chuan uluk ve thin se...sorkar ang pawhin hma lak tul ngawt mai...!

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