Jelle J. P. Wouters' book In the Shadows of Naga Insurgency: Tribes, State, and Violence in Northeast India (Oxford UP, 2018) declutters and reconceptualizes the top-down notion of conceptualizing and understanding Naga village, social bodies, state, and violence. As the title suggests it goes to the shadows or the ground reality of political life that affects the everyday life o the people offering a rich ethnographic purview. Jelle Wouters illustrates an ‘insurgency complex’ that reveals how embodied experiences of resistance and state aggression, violence and volatility, and struggle and suffering link together to shape social norms, animate local agitations, and complicate inter-personal and inter-tribal relations in expected and unexpected ways. The book locates the historical experiences and agency of the Naga people and relates these to ordinary villagers’ perceptions, actions, and moral reasoning vis-à-vis both the Naga Movement and the state and its lucrative resources. It thus presses us to rethink our views on tribalism, conflict and ceasefire, development, corruption, and democratic politics.
Tiatemsu Longkumer is a Ph.D. scholar working on ‘Anthropology of Religion’ at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong: India.