WOMEN IN NATIVE LAND STRUGGLES OF AUSTRALIA AND INDIA: READING THE LIVES OF AUNTIE RITA AND C.K JANU
Research Assistant, Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
The struggles to regain lands and to ensure land rights of the aboriginal people had been in the pages of history since the beginning of colonisation. Campaigns for land were strengthened by the involvement of women to get back access to the dispossessed land of the original land holders. Europeans described the acquired lands as being ‘waste lands or deserts or uninhabited or unoccupied terrains’ as the aboriginal people were not even considered as human beings. Same is the case with the tribal people of Kerala. The subaltern groups of Dalits (the down-trodden group in the caste hierarchy in India) and Adivasis (the indigenous or aboriginal communities of India) have lost their lands due to illegal encroachments, land seizing, emergence of plantations and various government developmental projects. The women of these ostracised sections showcased great courage to resist and fight for their land rights. This study focuses on the role of women in native land struggles of Australia and India by the close reading of two selected life writing works – the biography of Rita Huggins (aka Auntie Rita) titled Auntie Rita (1994) and autobiography of C.K. Janu titled Mother Forest: The unfinished story of C.K. Janu (2004).
land rights, dislocation, alienation, government, land struggles, aboriginal and dalit women.