International Seminar on 'Revisiting Rohtasgarh’: Cultural Adaptation & Storytelling: The Formation of Adivasi Literature held

Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi under its Dr K S Singh Tribal Resource Centre (DKSSTR), Department of Research & Planning & Rural Management Programme and Ms Mary Girard, a US Fulbright-Nehru Researcher at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi jointly organised a two-day International Seminar on the topic 'Revisiting Rohtasgarh’: Cultural Adaptation & Storytelling: The Formation of Adivasi Literature on 17-18 June 2024 at the Fr Michael Van den Bogaert SJ Auditorium, XISS Ranchi.

This seminar marked a significant milestone in the exploration of Adivasi cultures and their literary heritage. As it offered a comprehensive and insightful examination of the intricate relationship between culture, adaptation, and storytelling.

The welcome remarks were given by Dr Joseph Marianus Kujur, Director, XISS where he mentioned that, XISS Ranchi, takes great pride in its commitment to promoting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of India’s tribal communities through the DKSSTR, Department of Research & Planning & Rural Management Programme. This centre established with a vision to bridge academic excellence with societal impact, embodies our dedication to understanding and advocating for the rights and development of tribal populations across the nation. Our Rural Management Programme further amplifies these efforts by equipping students with practical skills and insights to address challenges faced by rural and tribal communities, ensuring our graduates are catalysts for positive change.

He further added that, this seminar delved into the rich cultural adaptations and storytelling traditions that contribute to the formation of Adivasi literature, offering a platform for scholars and researchers to explore these themes in depth. He also highlighted that XISS invites scholars, practitioners, and stakeholders to join us in this transformative journey towards a more equitable and empowered future for India’s tribal communities.

This seminar offered a unique opportunity to celebrate the richness and diversity of Adivasi cultures, said Mary Girard, Scholar & a US Fulbright-Nehru Researcher at JNU and the organizer of the event. Girard added that by revisiting Rohtasgarh, we not only honor the traditions of storytelling but also to shed light on the dynamic nature of Adivasi literature and its significance in shaping collective identities.

During the seminar, Rohtasgarh, was discussed in details and was termed as a place entrenched in history and folklore. Through an interdisciplinary approach, participants delved into the depths of Adivasi literature, uncovering layers of narratives, myths, and oral traditions that have shaped the cultural landscape of India.

The seminar featured engaging discussions and presentations by renowned scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the field of Adivasi studies. Topics of exploration included the evolution of Adivasi literature, its adaptation to contemporary contexts, and its role in fostering cultural identity and resilience.

The panel topics of the day were Visiting Rohtasgarh : Fort and Village, Paradox of History: Oral vs Academic: Decolonizing our Methodology, The History of Oraon Migration, Historical Overview of Literature on Adivasi Migration into Chotanagpur, Migration Story: From an Oraon Perspective, Orality and Adivasi Identity & Agency, and Compiling Folk Tales: Literature and Oral Archives.

On day two, the panel discussed the ever-challenging topic of ‘Jani Shikar’ where a 4:45 minutes long film on Jani Shikar by the Adivasi TV March 2019 was played. This was continued with a panel discussion on “A feminist critique” by Shanti Kalkho, Cordula Kujur and Vandana Tete.

Oraon Settling in Chotanagpur was the theme for the next panel discussion along with Reciprocity and Coexistence Cultural Interaction, Society Structure and Governance, Decolonizing Methodology          topics which were discussed in detail.

The seminar saw a participation of experts from the field of literature, research, art, filmmaking, and others including Dr Sona Jharia Minz, JNU, Former Vice Chancellor, Sidho-Kanho University, Dumka, Fr Nicholas Barla, Secretary, Tribal Desk, CBCI, New Delhi, and Dr Narayan Oraon, Pioneer of the Oraon Script known as Tolong Lipi.

Dr Amar E. Tigga, Dean Academics, XISS, Dr Anant Kumar, Head of Rural Management Programme, Dr Sant Kumar, Dr Bhubneshwar Sawaiyan, Roshan Ekka, Rakesh Kumar, Dr Abhay Sagar Minj, Deepak Bara, Dr Neelam Kerketta, Kirti Minj, Augustine Kerketta, Monica Toppo, Poonam Topno, Eva Jyoti, and Seerat Kachchap were also in attendance in this seminar.

A Question-and-Answer Session based on Storytelling & Oral History was also held for the audience.