Towards an Epistemology of Uniqueness

Laitkor Village situated near the road towards Smit.

The picture shows the stone monoliths of the Khasis. These monoliths speaks of the long distance the Khasis traversed 2300 years ago as a community, and also symbolizes the community’s multiple stories about themselves during these historical journeys. The Khasis erected such monoliths along the way in places some of them finally decided to inhabit. This photo captures such monoliths situated in a football ground in Laitkor village, Hima Mylliem.

Such monoliths are found in abundance across the length and breath of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in the State of Meghalaya. Public meetings call ‘Dorbar’ are held in the grounds close to these monoliths asserting a strong bond between land, culture and peoples. Such symbols keep the narrative of the Khasi peoples vibrant, dynamic and alive.

These organic narratives have a very important role to play in Khasi society. The Khasis believe that as long as a community is able to keep its narrative alive, they will remain so. When a narrative dies, together with it, the community dies. Communities without a strong narrative, will either be forced and subjected to a state of refugization, or will insidiously be subsumed by an overarching identity of a larger dominant community, losing in the process – language, culture and their historical claim to lands, livelihoods and bodies …

“Invest all your energies to keep our narrative alive”, I was told by a village elder, “narratives are fundamental to our own being and for fueling ‘others’ social imagination about us. Never forget that those who have historically surrendered their narratives to the ‘other’ have vanished, and those who have kept their narratives alive against the ‘other’, have survived.”

bodhi s.r

(Reflections on Diverse/Dialogical Tribal epistemology)

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