Assertion, Negotiation and Subjugation of Identity: Understanding the Tamil-Malayali Conflict in Munnar

Publication Type:

Journal Articles

Authors:

Shyam Hari P

Source:

Millennial Asia, Volume 10, Issue 2, p.167-182 (2019)

URL:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0976399619853711

Keywords:

Identity conflict, Kannan Devan Hills village, Malayali, Munnar, plantations, Tamil

Abstract:

Social identities play a critical role in the various phases of conflict. Existing literature often examines the role of social identity of groups in inducing conflict in heterogeneous societies. This article puts forward the view that the role of identity is not limited in terms of inducing conflict, but it also plays a vital role in influencing the dynamics of conflict. Based on this conceptual framework, the article outlines the conflict dynamics observable in the Kannan Devan Hills village in Kerala, where several factors, over the course of time in the last century, have led to the perception of conflict between the Tamils and the Malayalis. As a major objective, the article identifies the issues and processes of social interaction between the two groups that necessarily influence the nature of the conflict. The article identifies that the conflict between the two communities, though mostly latent, can be seen through three important aspects: assertion, negotiation and subjugation of identities. Through assertion of identity, the conflict is perceived over ethnic lines, whereas the process of negotiation and subjugation of identity constantly undermines the ethnic nature of conflict to specific grievances, thus giving insight into the dynamic nature of the conflict.