Tea Plantations and Witch Hunts

Chaudhuri argues that witchcraft accusations among the adivasi worker communities in the tea plantations of Jalpaiguri, India, are a protest against the plantation management. Thus the witchcraft accusations are not a performance of “exotic and primitive rituals of a backward” adivasi community during times of stress, but rather can be interpreted as a powerful protest organized by a marginalized community against its oppressors.  Findings illuminates how witchcraft accusations should be interpreted within the backdrop of labor-planters’ relationship, characterized by rigidity of power, patronage, and social distance. A complex network of relationships—ties of friendship, family, politics, and gender—provide the necessary legitimacy for the witch hunt to take place. At the height of the conflict, the exploitative relationship between the plantation management and the adivasi migrant workers often gets hidden, and the dain (witch) becomes a scapegoat for the malice of the plantation economy.

2017
Witches, Activists, and Bureaucrats: Navigating Gatekeeping in Qualitative Research. Click here to access paper.

2013
Witches, Tea Plantations, and Lives of Migrant Laborers in India: Tempest in a Teapot. Click here to access book.

2012
Women as Easy Scapegoats: Witchcraft Accusations and Women as Targets in Tea Plantations of India. Click here to access paper.

Strategic Framing Work(s): How Micro-credit Loans facilitate Anti-Witch Hunt Movements. (coauthored with Anu Chakravarty) Click here to access paper.