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When Hunters Gather but Do Not Hunt, Playing with the State in the Forest: Jarawa Children’s Changing World

  • Vishvajit Pandya
Chapter
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)

Abstract

Traditionally, children in the Jarawa community (South and Middle Andamans) play games that replicate the movements of animals their parents hunt in the forest. Jarawa children and adolescents grow up observing adults’ activities and incorporating them into their play. Boys often replicate the hunting practices of adults by making replicas of the bow and arrow. Jarawa adults view children as complete individuals and assume that children will, of their own accord, begin contributing to the political economy of the band when they are ready to do so. This also implies that children learn on their own not just finite skills but through play learn to negotiate diverse situations in their changing world. Since 1999 the world of the Jarawas has undergone a rapid transformation. The outward hostility and self-imposed isolation of the Jarawa community have eroded, and the young boys have begun hanging out at the major road passing through the reserve forest. This paper considers changes that have occurred in Jarawa children’s play since 2001 with the influence of traffic, tourists, and a more visible state authority. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this chapter illustrates various aspects of children’s play: the different ways in which play facilitates the articulation and maintenance of, as well as challenges to, power relations between the Jarawa and elements of encroaching modernity. In this sense, play is revealed to be far from just “hanging out at the roadside” but an activity through which children develop and learn to conduct new politico-economic relations in a place where outsiders, state, forest, and Jarawas collide.

Jarawa children play at the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) (1999) imitating fiddler crabs to while away the time before the next convoy of traffic passes by and is attracted to stop and watch the kids at the roadside, while the adults wait on the side to contact and gather from the road users

Keywords

Jarawas Andaman Islanders Hunter-gatherers Forms of play Work Political economy 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication TechnologyGujaratIndia

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