The Nilgiri Archaeological Project: Culture and Environment in the Upland Forests of South India from Antiquity to Early Modernity

Start - End 
2021 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department(s) 
Department of Languages and Cultures
Other institution(s) 
Government Museum, Chennai
Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology
Institut Français de Pondichéry
Università degli Studi Napoli "L'Orientale"
Research group(s) 
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Additional tags 
South India
Upland Forests
Forest-dwellers
Nilgiri Mountains

Tabgroup

Abstract

Indian upland forest-dwellers – like many other indigenous communities around the globe – are under threat from resource extraction, agricultural development and de-forestation as are the material remains of their cultures. These people are still perceived as a-historical therefore research on their past is scant and inadequate. This is the result of a Eurocentric perspective that is still dominant today and relegates Indian upland forest-dwellers to the margins of history. The aim of the Nilgiri Archaeological Project is to change this view and develop a new multidisciplinary framework to study the pre-colonial history of Indian upland forest-dwellers. To this end, research will combine the theories of Subaltern Studies with those of environmental history, and integrate the methods of material culture studies, landscape and environmental archaeology, historical ethnobotany, and textual analysis. To achieve the project’s aim, research will focus on the Nilgiri Mountains in southern India, a region of montane subtropical forests and the homeland of (at least) sixteen ethnic groups, from the start of the Common Era to the early 19th century. The Nilgiri Archaeological Project will investigate museum collections, the built and natural environment, archaeobotanical remains, early colonial herbaria and botanical literature, and texts in Old Kannada and Old Tamil. Research partners include the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, the Government Museum in Chennai, the Institut Français de Pondichéry, and the University of Naples "L'Orientale".

People

Supervisor(s)

Postdoc(s)

External(s)

Anupama Krishnamurthy

Institut Français de Pondichéry

Gandhimathi Janakiraman

Government Museum, Chennai