In this article I trace the ironic social life of the ethnic names used for a forestdwelling people living in the Nilgiri-Wynaad in South India in various intersecting arenas: local, colonial, and postcolonial. They call themselves sonta (translatable as “own, relatives who live together”), usually prefixed by nama (our). Outsiders, such as the neighbors in their multi-ethnic region, and colonial and postcolonial administrators, have regarded them by various ethnonyms including Nayaka/Kattunayaka. I examine the meanings and politics of their appellations in this case study of the complex processes of making indigenous polities in India.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.
- Ethnic identity
- Ethnic names
- Foraging people
- Indigenous polities
- South India
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts
- Religious studies
- Literature and Literary Theory