1. The conversations explored in this book are based on actual conversa-
tions which, though not audiotaped, have been reconstructed from de-
tailed field notes as well as from memory. The conversations were carried
out in either Hindi or Nagpuria. In Tapu, the main language spoken in
every household is Nagpuria, a Sanskrit-based dialect promoted by Jhar-
khandi activists as the adivasi language of the Chotanagpur Plateau. Only
some of the villagers—mainly the educated rural elite—spoke Hindi, and
only when necessary. Kurukh, the Oraon language, is spoken by a few of
the older generation of Oraons. Mundari is generally not known in Tapu,
except by women who have come from Munda areas in other parts of
2. I have changed the names of all my friends and informants in Jhar-
khand, apart from a few well-known people, to protect their identity. In
any case, most people have several names. Many Mundas were known by
the name of the day on which they were born—for instance, Somra for
Monday, Mangra for Tuesday, and Budhwa for Wednesday. However,
those who had caste certificates had often been registered with a more
Hinduized name. The higher-caste Hindu landlords who did not consider
the names of days ‘‘proper’’ names for people carried out most of these
registrations for the Mundas. So in some contexts, some Mundas were
also known by these more Hinduized names. In this book, I use their
non-Hinduized names as pseudonyms for the Mundas and use alternative
Hindu names for the Hinduized descendants of zamindars. Where material
is particularly sensitive, I have also changed a few other identifying features
of the lives of my friends and informants, to prevent them from being
identifiable. Tapu is also a pseudonym.
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