Making place through ritual: Land, environment and region among the Santal of Central India

Lea Schulte-Droesch

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

    5848 Downloads (Pure)


    Place is constituted through human action. This assertion has been one of the major contributions of the social sciences to the study of place. Through their activities, people in different societies come to attribute different meanings to, for example, the forest, fields or cities.
    The focus of this work lies in culturally specific notions of place as existing in Santal society, a tribal society of at least six million people living in Central India. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, during which the author lived in Santal villages in rural Jharkhand, India, this thesis discusses different Santal notions of place. In order to gain access to and study these notions, Santal rituals were chosen as a lens.
    The three chapters of this PhD thesis describe various Santal rituals. These show that through their rituals, the Santal articulate notions of place and “make place” on different levels. The rituals involve different groups of people and bring forth culture-specific meanings of land, fields, forest and region.
    Through an analysis of the rituals of a specific society, this thesis addresses broader issues. It shows that religion, in some societies, is a practical activity and should be studied as such. It presents culture-specific perceptions of the environment. It further addresses the interaction between the local and the global in a rural context in India. And last, this thesis underlines the potential that lies in choosing place as a starting point to study social phenomena in context.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • von Stuckrad, Kocku, Supervisor
    • Berger, Peter, Co-supervisor
    Award date21-Apr-2016
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-8733-8
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8732-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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