A Disappearing World

Key information

10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Brunei Gallery
Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms
Event type

About this event

Ancient Traditions Under Threat in Tribal India. Tradition, continuity and conflict in Jharkhand State
An exhibition of photography by Robert Wallis and artwork by members of the Tribal Women's Artist Collective from Jharkhand, North Central India.

In the early 21st century, India is experiencing unprecedented economic growth. The middle class is becoming more prosperous and numerous, the cities are rapidly expanding. But to fuel this economic boom, raw materials are being extracted by mining corporations at an ever-increasing rate from mineral-rich states in north central India inhabited by people who can claim to be the oldest dwellers in the land. These non-Hindu tribal groups, known as Adivasi, have traditionally worshipped nature and maintained spiritual connections to ancestral territory where they have lived for thousands of years. Yet few Adivasi hold paper deeds to their land. As mining spreads, Adivasi are being displaced into resettlement camps or urban slums, dispossessed of their heritage and surviving as scavengers on the periphery of mines where they once hunted or farmed.

A growing economic gap between urban and rural India, and the so-called “resource curse” of a rich land but poor people, is leading to militant insurgency in the countryside and prompting debate within the Indian government and beyond. Should India continue on its centralised model of development? Can the rights of Adivasi to continue living according to their ancient traditions be accommodated in the new India?

Robert Wallis

Photographer Robert Wallis’ work on environmental, social and economic issues in Asia and other parts of the world has been widely published. You can see more of Robert Wallis' work at Panos Pictures web site and Panos Multimedia .

The Tribal Women’s Artist Collective (TWAC)

TWAC from Jharkhand, India preserves artistic traditions passed down from mothers to daughters. It also campaigns to protect the Jharkhand environment and ancient archaeological and rock-art sites across the state.

Public forum with Arundhati Roy:

Burning Ground: Mining, Adivasis and India's Civil War

A recording of the event is now available

Contact email: gallery@soas.ac.uk

Sponsor: The exhibition is generously supported by: Changing Ideas, The Gandhi Foundation, The Helen Hamlyn Trust, INTACH, SOAS, The Charles Wallace India Trust and Sapienza University of Rome.