This study deals with a social category, the category of tribes, that has the connotation of being fixed and essentially biologically determined. The author refutes theoretical and practical notions of tribe, or, as they are being called in a more politically correct fashion, ‘Indigenous Peoples’ or adivasis.
The author demonstrates that the ethnic community of Garos as we know them today is of relatively recent origin. At the same time, the case of the Garos is also a clear example of how ideas and images can become social reality.
Through a combined historical and anthropological approach, this study contributes to our understanding of the complex relations between South Asia’s minorities and their neighbours, of their self-perceptions and their presentations to the outside world, and of their place in the modern state.