Odia Literary Imagination and the Adivasi Before Paraja: An Exploration
The IUP Journal of English Studies, Vol. XVI, No. 1, March 2021, pp. 50-60
Posted: 7 Sep 2021
Date Written: March 23, 2021
Adivasis constitute more than 22 percent of the population of Odisha. Their simple lives have provided writers with a lot of stuff for literary imagination. A survey of Odia literature down the years shows that Odia writers became interested in these indigenous people particularly after the colonization of Odisha in 1803. For administrative purposes, colonial rulers came in contact with the Adivasis and started writing ethnographic details about them, in which they were portrayed as savages. With the emergence of the Odia middle class toward the end of the nineteenth century, the Adivasis got a place in the literary imagination of Odia middle-class writers. This class showed interest in the Adivasis’ lives and wrote both fictions and nonfictions about them, which were published in the emerging periodicals of that time. This paper proposes to study the predecessors of this novelization of Adivasi life. It analyzes the first four decades of the twentieth century when interest in the Adivasis gradually increased in Odisha. The paper confines itself to the Odia literary imagination of the Adivasis before the publication of Paraja (1945), a classic on Adivasi life. The role of the middle class in creating this world has also been discussed.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation