Personhood in Naga Culture

By Kekhrongu-u Dazo

This paper looks at the cultural practices of the Nagas in order to understand how Naga personhood is constituted. It posits that Naga personhood is constituted through the performance of cultural practices and norms which are formed both discursively and through embodied acts and practices. In drawing upon a range of arguments about performativity, personhood and identity, I have tried to develop a theoretical framework for the analysis of Naga cultural practices. I also develop in this paper a theory of performativity, drawing on the work of a number of writers in performance theory and ritual studies. The two arguments – the constitution of personhood and forms of cultural performativity –constitute the conceptual framework that I use to examine and problematize Naga personhood. I follow an interdisciplinary method drawing on both discourse analysis and concepts from anthropology as methodological tools to understand the symbolic universe of the Nagas past and present.