Subaltern Sovereigns: Rituals of Rule and Regeneration in Highland Odisha, India

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Abstract

The vast and ancient topic of kingship in India has mostly been studied from the perspectives of rulers and other elites. But what constitutes sovereignty viewed from "below"? This book — ethnographic and comparative in its essence — deals with indigenous conceptualizations of sovereignty taking as its starting point a local proverb that connects the ritual (Dasara) of the former king with festivals performed by his "tribal" subjects. The first part of the book initially introduces some pan-Indian ideas of kingship and proceeds to discuss indigenous notions of sovereignty as represented in rituals and myths in the region concerned (highland Odisha). The second part is devoted to the investigation of the proverbial performances. Mainly based on historical sources first the Dasara festival of the king is discussed, subsequently the indigenous rituals are described and analyzed, which the author ethnographically documented around the turn of the millennium. Ultimately, the proverb and the rituals constitute the idea of a sacrificial polity in which rulers and ruled share sovereignty in the sense that they are co-responsible for the flow of life.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages450
ISBN (Electronic)9783110458831
ISBN (Print)9783110458077
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Publication series

NameReligion and Society
PublisherDe Gruyter
Volume66

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