When Adivasis speak: Agency, resilience and resurgence

Writing, along with other multiform expressions, offers Adivasis continuity— a way that affirms Adivasi presence in textualised worlds and the real—linking our collective pasts, presents and futures. Writing and literature then become the tools to resist cultural displacement and loss of traditional ways of being, thinking and expression that changing lifestyles—both imposed and circumstantial—have set us up for questioning and vocalizing the challenges we encounter in trying to articulate our realities and histories in a form that is new to us, one that we’ve been denied as a practice and one we are not entitled to use is what I will talk us through.

Ruby Hembrom is an Adivasi cultural documentarian and practitioner based in Kolkata. She is the founder and director of adivaani (first voices), an archiving and publishing outfit of and by Adivasis (the indigenous peoples of India) started in 2012 as a non-profit organisation. She is the writer of adivaani’s Santal Creation Stories for children, a recast of the Santal Creation myths in English and the prize winning Disaibon Hul, on the Santal Rebellion of 1855–57.