Erik de Maaker and Meenal Tula (Eds.), Unequal Land Relations in North East India: Custom, Gender and the Market, Guwahati: NESRC, 2020.

Reviewed by Bankerlang Kharmylliem

In Unequal Land Relations in North East India: Custom, Gender and the Market, editors Erik de Maaker and Meenal Tula presents a collection that provides insight into land issues of the tribal communities of the Northeastern states of India. The book, through its six chapters, explores land questions that are very unique to the tribal populace.

Land is a central theme for tribal ethnic peoples in North East India. It has been a driving force for culture, governance and politics. Increasing population has accelerated concerns related to land, more so in the rural areas. This volume critically analyses a number of issues at the fore related to land. The book reminds us of the giants of colonial rule and the modern state respectively being the past and present agents of undesirable land developments.

In the introductory chapter the editors framed a number of topics like the customary, gender and the rural monetisation and their association with land. According to the authors, land complications became more pronounced and severe ‘when the region became incorporated in the colonial state, from the early 19th century.’ As a scarce asset, land creates problems of inclusion, exclusion, power, ethnic movements besides others. This chapter sets a finer context for a better understanding of the chapters that follow.