Social Scientist. v 10, no. 115 (Dec 1982) p. 15.


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SUDATTA SIKDAR*

Tribalism vs. Colonialism: British Capitalistic Intervention and Transformation of Primitive Economy of Arunachal Pradesh in the Nineteenth Century

THE INTEGRATION of the distinct tribal economy of Arunachal1 into the orbit of the greater imperial economy provides a fascinating case of colonialism operating through the important organ of trade. Whenever capitalism interacts with pre-capitalist modes of production and subjects these to itself, the transfer of value from the pre-capitalist formation to the capitalist formation takes place as a result of the mechanism of primitive accumulation. Yet expanding capitalism cannot exploit the economic assests of the 'periphery' without modernising the traditional structure at least to a limited extent. The present case was no exception. To understand this process it is necessary to examine the mode of production prevailing in the hilly region of Arunachal Pradesh during the pre-colonial period.

Primitive modes of production display a collectivism in production and consumption due to the underdeveloped state of productive forces. Theoretically, primitive modes of production are marked by (i) the organisation of labour partly on an individual basis (the small family) and partly on a collective basis (the clan, the village). Land, the essential means of production, was collectively owned by the clan, and cultivation was undertaken according to the rules for assignment of plots to each household; (ii) the absence of commodity exchanges and, correlative with this, (iii) distribution of the products within the group in accordance with rules that relate closely to the kinship organisation.2 In practice however,

The different forms of the commune or tribe members' relation to the tribe's land and soil, to the earth where it was settledódepend partly on the natural inclinations of the tribe, and partly on the economic conditions in which it relates as proprietor to the land and soil in reality, i.e., in which it appropriates its fruits through

*Research Scholar, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong.



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