Indigenous people‘s attachment to traditional agroforestry system: An empirical insight from Churachandpur, Northeast India
Indigenous people in Northeast India are facing significant challenges due to policy measures aimed at outlawing the controversial practice of shifting cultivation (SC) in order to cope with the environmental degradation and forest conservation, though, it has so far been unsuccessful. Such measures tend to overlook the contribution of SC landscape to the social and cultural well-being of indigenous people. This article explores the place and place-based practice bonding, drawing on a survey from Churachandpur, Manipur, Northeast India. Through structured interviews of 90 households of 9 village clusters with SC practitioners and focused group discussions, we outline the way SC system is developing the sense of place and giving the individual and community identities, besides giving a specific place character associated with it. Principal component analysis of four dimensions of place attachment reveals that traditional institution bonding exerts the strongest influence (Cronbach alpha 0.97) on their decision to continue with SC. Scores for nature bonding, lack of alternate occupation and economic bonding were 0.94, 0.92 and 0.83, respectively. The study established that SC is strongly intertwined with the culture and social life of people who practice it. Social wellbeing of jhumias outweighs their economic reasons of attachment to SC and it would not be prudent to brand it merely as a form of agroforestry system.
Indigenous people; Place attachment; Shifting cultivation; Social bonding
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