Liberal democracy, tribal institutions and politics of representation: analysing the Nongkynrih Shnong Dorbar.

Abstract

The paper seeks to empirically investigate how the politics of \"recognition\" and \"representation\" of the exclusive rights of a community is being enacted and reflected in the renewed assertion for 'recognition' of \"traditional political institutions\", which are perceived to the institutionalised bearers of \"traditionality\". Indigenous supporters who consider the modern institutions as blemished by schisms of competitive party politics often position these \"traditional political institutions\" as a distinctive alternative to the modern liberal democratic institutions. The uniqueness of these traditional political institutions is expressed by emphasising the role of \"consensus\" in decision-making and the \"incontestable legitimacy\" that the institutions instinctively secure from the 'community' they serve. Nonetheless, these institutions have often been the focus of critical assessments for being 'exclusively modelled' limiting the participation of certain sections like women and ethnic others as well providing a \"new lease of life to encumbered collective identities\".

In this context the essay investigates the bases of 'political' authority, the nature of the institutional structures, the implications of consensual 'political' processes, limits to individual liberty and gender equality and the dichotomous or constitutive relationship between 'modern' and 'traditional' institutions in a rural 'ideal type' Durbor in the Khasi Hills district of the state of Meghalaya. This ideal type Dorbar is called the Nongkynrih Shnong Dordar, situated about 70 kilometres from the urban centre of Shillong.

Citation

Baruah, A.K.; Dev, R.; Sharma, M. Liberal democracy, tribal institutions and politics of representation: analysing the Nongkynrih Shnong Dorbar. Crisis Research Centre, London, UK (2005) 18 pp.

Liberal democracy, tribal institutions and politics of representation: analysing the Nongkynrih Shnong Dorbar.

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