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Making of the Other

Vignettes of Violence in Andamanese Culture

Vishvajit Pandya
Department of Anthropology, Victoria University, Wellington, New

Abstract  Based on field study and historical accounts, this article is an analysis
of the symbolic construction of hostility and violent relations between
Andamanese hunters and neighbouring settlers around the reserve forests.
Using the culturally articulated notions of anger and peace, the article compares
the event of pig hunting with Andamanese killing of outsiders. Are acts of vio-
lence a means of articulating the politics and mutually reflected images of the
other between Andamanese and outside settlers on the islands?
Keywords  Andaman Islands  anger  forests  history  hunting  Jarwas  vio-

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No questions,
now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked
from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already
it was impossible to say which was which. (George Orwell, Animal Farm)

Classical accounts of the Andaman Islands (Man, 1883; Portman, 1899;

Radcliffe-Brown, 1964) relate that 12 groups of hunting and gathering
negritos shared language and customs within the cluster of islands. Today
about 450 hunting and gathering individuals survive. These individuals
belong to one of two tribal groups, identified as Jarwas and Ongees. These
two groups make up less than 0.32 percent of the Andaman Islands popu-
lation, and are surrounded by an ever-increasing non-tribal population
known locally as settlers (see Figure 1). The settlers began as small farmers
and exploiters of the forest resources, but, over a period of time, they have
become industrial and service workers in the towns. From the settlers point
of view, the tribal population, protected and provided for by the govern-
ment, is an irresolvable problem. Tribals were and are still seen as funda-
mentally different from settlers. According to a local settler:

They [Jarwas] are distinctively different since they do not stay in one place and
the only thing that can be predictable about them is that they will take lives.
They kill animals to survive, have historically and some continue to be wild and
violent, even towards the outsiders. They would kill us without a second
thought. We on the other hand are not wild. We only sometimes kill animals!
Vol 20(4) 359391 [0308-275X(200012)20:4; 359391;014801]
Copyright 2000 SAGE Publications
(London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi)
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Figure 1 Andaman Islands and areas associated with Jarwas

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For the settlers, getting killed by tribesmen in the forest is a different

issue from killing forest animals, which is an activity engaged in by both
tribal and non-tribal people. Although both events involve a loss of life, the
tribal killing of settlers is regarded as a violent act with a long history, and
a fundamental marker differentiating the savage and wild tribesmen from
the civilized settler. This view of tribesmen as jungleey applies to the
Ongees of the Little Andamans and to the Jarwas of the Middle Andamans.
The Ongee used to kill and were regarded as cannibals (Portman, 1899),
and the Jarwas, in spite of many attempts at friendly contact, continue to
exhibit violence towards outsiders, leaving behind in their forests the dead
and mutilated bodies of anyone who dares to penetrate their areas. For the
settlers, these violent killings are a major theme in defining the difference
between themselves and the jungleey tribals of the Andamans.
My conversations with settlers who were connected either directly or
indirectly with the Jarwas and Ongees of the Little Andamans, indicate that
people distinguish between different forms of violence and conceptualize
violence as an act committed upon the settlers by a very different other.
Invariably, acts of violence are statements about the actors, embedded
within a need to cope with and to represent the other. But for the settlers,
these acts are based on their own collective experience and memory. Vio-
lence is not just a direct experience of self, but is conceptualized as an act
committed upon settler bodies by Jarwas.1 The killing of a Jarwa, however,
is always seen as an act of self-defence and is distinguished from violent
tribal killings. Violence has therefore generated and sustained a hostile
division between settlers and tribal people, positing us and other, our
bodies and other bodies.
This raises the question of why such a distinction regarding violence is
applied by non-tribals to tribals. Beyond the discourse of deserved/justified
or undeserved/unjustified pain involved, is the fact that violence is also a
means by which tribal people designate the settlers as others. Why is vio-
lence invariably a discourse of the other, centred upon a body and invok-
ing intense antagonism? The concern with the other in an Andamanese
context is also a concern for anthropology. Anthropologists have critically
developed and reassessed the sense of otherness. It has been argued that
anthropologists construct the other through a denial of coevalness and by
initiating a politics of knowledge (Fabian, 1983: 154; see also Fabian, 1973).
As a result, anthropologists overcome the limitation of location by con-
ceiving of otherness in their practice of cultural criticism (Clifford, 1986:
3). If otherness is a viewing point for anthropologists to stand upon and
create anthropological knowledge, then the societies and cultures viewed
also construct their own positions to observe otherness. Much like the other
constituted by anthropologists, societies under the anthropological gaze
also constitute their own other. Often these viewpoints are built on his-
torical patterns of violent events.
If anthropologists can be blamed for making their ethnographic
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subjects into objects, then in the Andamans, settlers and tribals are also
engaged in the construction and transference of subjects into objects
through acts of violence. In the political landscape of the Andamans,
throughout colonial and postcolonial history, violent events have been a
viewpoint for the gaze of tribal and non-tribal others. Thus violence has
been a mutually reflexive process in which each group is reflected as other.
Violence as a concept and a practice has sustained the sense of otherness.
This raises the question of whether violence as a concept is a cultural
system of meaning, a communicative process about otherness. Are notions
of violence as important as acts of violence? How do acts relate to categories
and vice versa? Perhaps addressing such questions could take us beyond the
value-loaded and politically charged way of conceiving of violence as sen-
sational and exotic (see Haas, 1990; Nagengast, 1994; Riches, 1986; Roscoe,
1997). Fabians (1990) challenge to anthropology, asking how the praxis of
writing ethnography relates to the praxis of what is written, could be
extended to the ethnographic context of the Andamans. How does the
praxis of violence relate to the conception of violence viewed from the per-
spective of otherness?2 If the non-tribals, like anthropologists, have a con-
struction of the other, what are the Andamanese tribal ideas of the other?
And are these ideas also founded upon concepts of violence? Tribal, settler
or anthropological discourses presenting non-tribal uses of violence as
means of constructing identities establish the legitimacy of those upon
whom violence is inflicted while simultaneously denying that the
Andamanese tribes are capable of making their own discourse on other-
My intention is to examine how violence inflicted on the body is part
of a process of constructing mutually reflective ideas of the other for tribal
and non-tribal people in the Andamans. It is this mutual reflectiveness that
makes violence not just a voice of one groups disembodied narration
(Das, 1995). Violence is articulated in a culturally and historically specific
manner. Living things are not just transformed into dead, but are dealt with
in a particular manner. In much the same way, the raw is not just cooked,
but undergoes a transformation which involves cultural operations to make
it different and other the cooked (Lvi-Strauss, 1966). Once cooked, the
other is differentiated as consumable. Just as cooking transforms something
from nature into culture, so violence transforms a body into something
other than what it was before the violent act. A body treated violently not
only makes the inflicter of violence different and other from the com-
munity that institutionalizes the collective memory of it, but also creates a
very special place for the coexistence of the tribal and the non-tribal.
However this is not an individual biographical transformation into a text
on the other but is a context that makes violence a discursive practice. Both
the tribal and non-tribal community are created through violence against
the other. Can we read the bodies subjected to the specific pain and form
of violence within the Andamanese tribal culture as transforming the body
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into the Other? Ethnographic and historic details in fact provide us with
the infrastructure in which violence is utilized to make a discourse on the
Other. For instance, Durkheim (1968) conceives of the individual as not
only marked by a dualism but also sees the body and its transformation as
the most enduring witness to a consubstantiation between the social and
individual. As a result, the best way to demarcate a body as other than the
self or belonging to a group is to place distinctive marks on the body. Often
a painful ritualized process marks a number of individuals as participants
in the same moral life. In the case of initiation, the ritual and the pain
endured by the individuals body marks it as a participant in the other, in
a collective that is greater then the individual. It generates sentiments
focused on social values to instil the individuals dependence on society
(Radcliffe-Brown, 1964).

Places of violence and encounters with the Other

Early in the afternoon of 4 September 1992, about 300 residents from the
outskirts of Port Blair ended their protest march at the towns administra-
tive headquarters. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands form part of Indias
union territory, and Port Blair is the Islands capital. As the march passed
through the Aberdeen Bazaar, the site of the 1859 Battle of Aberdeen with
the tribal people,4 I was invited by the protesters to join them. They
explained that the administration wanted to resettle them near the Jarwa
forest because it intended to expand the airport. They were protesting
against these plans to the Governor.
The marchers carried posters and shouted slogans such as: We will not
move and get our bodies cut up by arrows. The protesters viewed their
forced removal from town as a relocation from a civilized place to a place
in which their lives would be under threat. The site of their relocation lay
in close proximity to a forest of 765 sq km reserved for the Jarwas. The pro-
testers identified this as a region in which violent interchanges between the
tribals and outsiders are frequent. They perceived it as a place where the
savage and wild are not far from ones backyard. Violence happens fre-
quently and is beyond control.
Since the completion of the Andaman Trunk Road in 1988, private and
commercial traffic passes through the Jarwa reserve. The 23 km stretch of
the road has already contributed to an increased presence of outsiders close
to the Jarwas. This closer relationship has sharpened the image of the other
and increased the discourse of hostility and the number of vignettes of vio-
lence. Along the road various settlements have been built. Settlers see the
Jarwas forest reserve as yet another area to be exploited. Illegal poaching
and the extraction of forest resources is now frequent. In fact, the small
communities of settlers have developed tales of local heroes which describe
how they now deal with the Jarwas. They tell how they have killed Jarwas
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while hunting wild pigs. One such legend involving a 36-year-old cultivator
was narrated to me by his neighbours, who now run a small tea shop in the
main bazaar in Kadamtalla.
Ghoshaal was a brave and successful hunter, he never returned empty handed.
His secret was that he took the boat to sea from Kadamtalla and entered the
Jarwa forest from the beach. Often he would find women and young children
in the camps along the beach and scare them by firing in the air. Sometimes
he would kill them, especially the young children, by just clubbing them with
his gun! This is because Jarwa parents often dig holes in the sand and place
their children in the hole and fill it up to their necks. This makes them stay put
until Jarwas return. One day the Jarwas must have seen him doing this when
they caught him. Since September 1986 the Ghoshaals family have been waiting
for his return. Now they have given up all hopes. He must have died in the
forest among the Jarwas!

Imaginations run wild in the construction of these narratives, as can be

seen from accounts of ongoing practices of silent barter between individual
settlers in Harpatabad and Jarwas in the forest. Some settlers supposedly
have established friendly relations with Jarwas. They tie pieces of clothing
to the trees of the forest and place scrap metal and small empty cans under
the trees. Jarwas, it is claimed, take the clothes and metal and in return leave
honey in the cans. On occasion, the transactions have led to encounters in
which no words have been exchanged but only violent blows. Other
accounts tell of settlers who have escaped being killed by fierce Jarwas while
collecting raw materials from the forest. Some incidents are confirmed by
official reports of the death and injury. Settlers have been shot by arrows
and their bodies brutally mutilated in anger and revenge. Between
November 1993 and January 1994, 11 individuals were reported to have
been killed by Jarwas. In most incidents the people were killed in Jarwa
territory. The local police have had to recover the bodies, which were in
various stages of decomposition and invariably showed signs of mutilation.
In the last 10 years, Bush Police camps have been established within the
Jarwa reserve, and serve as warning posts to protect the settlers by scaring
away the Jarwas with gunfire. The Bush Police were originally intended to
protect the Jarwa, but are seen today as a force for the protection of the
settlers and even themselves. Often, gun-carrying Bush Police are targets of
Jarwa ambushes. On 20 October 1991, the Bush Police camp at Jhirkatang
was attacked by Jarwas, and one policeman was killed. In defence (or retal-
iation) the police, in accordance with regulations, claimed to have fired
300 rounds in the air.
Descriptions of hostile Jarwa acts say that the attacks are not only
directed at outsiders entering the forest but also at settlements and Bush
Police camps. These raids are said to take place at night time, especially
during the full moon. Often Jarwas are reported to enter settlements at
night, when they steal metal vessels, consume fruits from chopped down
planted trees, and destroy the fences and thatching of houses. On occasion,
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dogs and livestock have been killed with arrows. Settlers report these inci-
dents, and claim compensation from the government.5 The settlers great-
est fear is of Jarwa arrows, which they claim have killed individuals in the
settlement. Settlers believe that these individuals were targeted by the
Jarwas because they have been spotted by the Jarwas in the forest, trying to
hunt or to extract forest products. Such activities are prohibited by the
administration and the settlers are not supposed to enter the forest reserve.
The settlers folk notion of personal revenge is questionable since it implies
that Jarwas seek out individual offenders which is unlikely. It cannot be
denied, however, that Jarwas resent outsiders exploiting their forest. On
many occasions the dead bodies of missing settlers have been recovered
from the forest. Available records detailing Jarwa hostility from 1983 to
1988 suggest that out of 28 incidents, 15 killings of non-Jarwas took place.
Eight of these deaths occurred within Jarwa territory. Between 1946 and
1961, 76 encounters were registered at the district headquarters in which a
total of 15 non-Jarwas were killed. No records exist of possible Jarwa losses.
In most of the reported incidents of Jarwas entering settlements, death is
infrequent (Mann, 1973). On occasion, settlers have awakened during the
night and chased Jarwas away; some have been shot at by Jarwas. It must be
noted that there are no reports filed in which Jarwas inform the authotities
of damage or loss of life among themselves. Historically Jarwas never leave
behind an injured member or a dead body of their own people. Part of the
reason for this is the importance given by the Andamanese to the burial of
the dead, to ensure the production of benevolent ancestral spirits (see
Pandya, 1993: 801)
The people around the Jarwa reserve area live in terror and fear of the
possible destruction of their homes and lives by Jarwa. One of the long-time
teachers from Harpatabad who works in Tirur noted:
Over the years the Jarwas have been pushed and pushed into a corner. Now
their anger is so intense that they not only come and take things from the settle-
ment, but rightly kill people who are taking things from their forest. . . . Out of
their long accumulated anger and feeling of revenge they continue to mutilate
dead bodies, just like we sometimes step on a small irritating bug or a snake
three or four times.
The teacher, sitting in front of his office wall which displays replicas of Jarwa
arrows made by his school students, added:
as the evening sets people become a little cautious; every day this is a normal
routine; there are certain things we dont do; we sometimes spot fire and smoke
in the forest. But, look, the Jarwas also have some sense of humanity, they have
never come down and set fire to the settlement.
Settlers emphasize the threat of violence from the tribal population, while
violence inflicted by the settlers upon the tribals is rarely mentioned; in fact
it is suppressed. When settler violence is mentioned, the description is
manipulated to convey a sense of their ascendancy over the other. Violence
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is thus used to project the otherness of the Andamanese tribes and to evoke
the historical expressions in which a single aspect of Andamanese culture
is imposed upon and distorted. Violence is a dialogue on a stage developed
historically but maintained in the postcolonial era.6

Cannibalism and punitive expeditions: the discourse of

violence in colonial times

Alexander Hamilton, who navigated the Bay of Bengal between 1688 and
1723, asserted that the Andamanese were cannibals and extremely violent,
and used to take slaves from the neighbouring islands of Nicobar (1930:
368). The Andamanese never practised cannibalism, and emphatically
deny it today. But they had a reputation for killing any sailor who landed
on the islands, either through shipwreck or while in search of fresh water.
In fact, they would stand in small and larger armed groups to ambush and
kill anyone who landed on islands like the Little Andamans. J.E. Alexander
presents a typical account of such an encounter (1827: 812). His sailors
landed on the Little Andamans in search of water and discovered an empty
tribal camp, where they tried out the bows and arrows left behind. While
collecting fresh water on their return, they were involved in a bloody
skirmish with the tribal people. Alexander and his men fired their muskets
and charged with bayonets, resulting in loss of life on both sides. Alexander
reported of the Little Andamans that there would be a convenient water-
ing-place, besides affording abundant material for refitting or building
ships. Under existing circumstances, a visit to this island is extremely haz-
ardous . . . (1827: 12). Colebrooke confirmed the hostility of the natives of
the Little Andamans. Having made observations of his own, he pointed out
that no evidence existed of the natives eating the flesh of enemies, but
noted that the bodies of the deceased were often found mangled and torn
(1795: 389).
According to the Ongees, people who belong to their own society are
always buried, but outsiders who were the victims of violent encounters,
were dealt with in a different manner (cf. Man, 1883: 45, 78; Radcliffe-
Brown, 1964: 8 fn.1, 10910). Such bodies were dragged to coastal areas
and then cut up. First the limbs were detached and then the stomach was
slit open. The whole cut-up body was then placed on a fire and burned. This
Ongee practice generated the accounts of the Little Andaman Islanders
(Ongees) as extremely violent cannibals. However, the Ongee logic of pro-
cessing the dead bodies of outsiders did not involve cannibalism. Bodies
must be cut up and burned so that the bodys essence, including its smell,
is released and all its bones are completely destroyed, since any bones left
behind after death release an aroma that attracts the spirits of the dead
person and his kin. Consequently families, through secondary burial, retain
the bones of their own dead relatives to attract them and ensure their help
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as spirits (Man, 1883: 735; Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 113, 292). Following the
same logic, all Andaman islanders retain not only skull and jaw bones of
dead relatives, but also the skulls and jaw bones of any animals they have
hunted, since the release of the animals smell once the meat has been con-
sumed ensures the future success of hunting (Pandya, 1993: 13744).
Animals hunted and processed are incorporated as food into Ongee society
while the hunted animals smell is retained within shelters of the camp-site
by hanging the skulls along the rafters (see Alexander, 1827; Radcliffe-
Brown, 1933: 184; Pandya, 1993). Just as animals of the forest need to be
constantly transformed and transferred from nature to culture by being
hunted outside the human domain, processed by butchering and trans-
formed into cooked food, the natural death of a kinsperson makes the rela-
tive an outsider that needs to be transformed into bones that are preserved
in order to incorporate the spirits of their outsideness back into the com-
munity of the living kinfolk.
The arrival and hostile acts of outsiders who landed on the Little
Andamans had no place within this Ongee world view. Not only did they
have to be killed, but transformed into a state that would completely
exclude them from the Ongee world. The Ongees achieved this by cutting
the bodies into pieces and burning them even to the point of destroying
their bones. The very act of cutting, separating and burning a human body
with all its inner organs removed was, for Ongees, an act of completing the
process of constructing the others who were alien to their world, and who
had to be kept separate and ultimately removed from their world.
It was not just a body being violently mutilated and destroyed which
generated the image of the Ongees as the Other brutal cannibalistic
savages. Records of the colonial administrators trips within the
Andamanese forests, printed in early census reports (Temple, 1903), show
how British Punitive Expeditions sustained and perpetuated such violent
images of the outsiders for the Andaman Islanders. Punitive Expeditions
maintained tribal hostility and added to the atmosphere of violence.
In the days of British control Port Blair was developed as the seat of
administration, and the region around was developed using prisoners from
mainland India (Majumdar, 1975; Singh, 1978). The forest was cleared,
with some Andamanese tribals (of the Aka Bea and Kol groups in northern
Andaman) being employed as guides. The Jarwas frequently attacked the
people they saw as invading their territory (Haughton, 1861). In retalia-
tion, Andamanese and Burmese forest workers and sepoys were often
ordered to make Punitive Expeditions. Vacant Jarwa camp-sites in the
deep forest were invaded by armed people and were ransacked and set
alight. Various objects such as metal implements, arrows, pots and baskets
were seized and removed, mostly to establish whether any escaped convicts
were living among the Jarwas, something that was never really established.
Reports suggest that face-to-face confrontation led to fatalities on both
sides, and to the capture of Jarwa women and children who were taken to
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Port Blair. Frequently gunfire and arrows were exchanged at close range.
Not only did this result in loss of life on both sides, but also a great deal of
blood of Jarwas was found after the firing ceased. The Jarwas themselves,
however, were seldom traced. In a 1925 expedition, 37 dead Jarwas were
reported, which reflects the intense nature of such Punitive Expeditions.
Similar contact, violence and destruction occurred in the Little Andaman
Islands between the Ongee and settlers until mid-1885 (Portman, 1899).
The image of the Andamanese being cannibals and the Punitive Ex-
peditions reflects the violent history of the Andaman Islands. The image
of a violent person involves a symbolic legitimation of outwardly directed
aggression (Bloch, 1992: 445) which within Andamanese history included
both tribal and non-tribal people. Such violence is also symbolic because,
as Bloch notes, the idea of rebounding violence is a result of attempts to
create a transcendental in religion and politics (1992: 7). In Blochs view,
killing creates an inverted reproduction which requires the symbolic pres-
ence, as much as the actual presence, of outsiders, who must have their vital-
ity conquered (Bloch, 1992: 445). In Andamanese history, images of
violence and brutality are mutually attributed. They mark the presence of
the outsider either as a colonial force or of the savage beyond the control
of the administration, in which the experience of the tribal and non-tribal
is conflated and collapsed.
Historically, a kind of animal-less hunting developed in which colonial
administrative officers created the savages, as others who had to be pun-
ished for killing by being killed. From the tribal point of view, the presence
of the outsiders in the forests resulted in violent and bloody encounters.
The mutual exchange of hostilities and exhibitions of violence and death
have continued ever since 1858. After 1942, and Indias independence, the
Andaman Islands were incorporated as a Union territory, which resulted
in the rights of some of the (by now declining) population of the tribal
group being protected under the 1956 Tribal Act. Tribal territories were
designated, and the presence of outsiders was controlled and minimized.
However, the increasing number of settlers on the island has not curbed
illegal encroachment involving collecting and poaching in the tribal
reserved area. So, within regions of Middle and South Andamans, Jarwas
continue to kill the outsiders.

Violence and the continued practice of making Other

From the non-tribal point of view, Ongees were once wild and hostile. Their
violent acts differentiated them from settlers. Today Jarwas are other than
civilized people because they live in the forest and are, as one settler put it,
naked people who have no inhibitions or shame and can be extremely
violent and hostile. Violence and death inflicted by settlers and tribal
people involve the killing of someone outside ones own group. But it is
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regarded as a blow delivered to an entire community mutually constructed

on discourses of violence. Previous acts of violence and killing, and the
cutting and mutilation of bodies, conditions the maintenance of difference
within structured forms of violence. Settlers regard the violence of the
Andamanese as being directly related or caused by their dependence on
the violent killing of animals for food. Hunting is a life-taking activity and
is regarded as inferior to the cultivation of the soil and other forms of work.
We as workers in fields, in small shops and offices nurture life for the
living. Jarwas hunt outsiders is a meaningful phrase of the settlers not
because of just the colonial historical context, but also because hunters in
the forest embody a way of life based upon hunting and violence. For
settlers it is not history, but the forms of tribal violence that have differen-
tiated the tribals as the other experienced within Andamanese history. So
in the discourse of the settlers, hunters are portrayed as ultimate examples
of savagery, as people who are ruthless and habitual killers of animals
and humans.
Beyond the perspective of settlers and tribal people, it is possible to
argue that contemporary transformations of the image of outsiders hunted
by Jarwas reflect tensions between indigenous groups, the state, settlers
idea of the sacrifice of outsiders in the forest, and tribal concepts of invasion
across territorial boundaries (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 86; Temple, 1903:
6890). It is an articulation of a protest against the loss of political auton-
omy. Some of the settlers living around the Jarwa forest feel that their fellow
men are killed or hunted within the Jarwa territory as sacrificial tribute
since they, as outsiders, take away the wealth from the forest and this must
be paid for in sacrificial fashion. Consequently the temple of Mariaman at
Jhirkatang is frequently visited by forest workers and settlers in order to
receive blessings from the priest, Kalimuttu Swamy, who survived a fierce
Jarwa attack in May 1987. He now conducts temple rites to ensure the safety
of people working near the Jarwa forest. In his own metaphysical discourse
the hunting of animals and hunting of humans is just such a sacrifice, much
like the animal sacrifice at his temple.
If you take something from God you need to give something to God too. If you
take what belongs to the Jarwa and their forest they too will take you and your
material possessions. All I do is to pray against taking the life of humans who
enter and take the wealth from the forest.7

Uniting various historical expressions of violence results in the

phenomenon of projection, where aspects of the culture of one people are
imposed on the other, but the meanings are distorted in the process. The
stage for this dialogue was set in the colonial encounters, and the stage has
been maintained since by the postcolonial Indian state. If violence has a
role in creating the other within the world view of the non-tribal outsiders,
is this a one-sided articulation, or is it a mutually reflected process? Do the
Andamanese tribal people also use violence to articulate their own cultural
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logic in order to create the otherness of the settlers they encounter in their
forests? If the constructed other is important to the protesters resisting
imposed resettlement, then resisting intruders to the forest also requires
explanation from the tribal perspective. This makes violence an exchanged
idea, communicating mutually reflected othernesses. For tribal peoples,
both encounters with animals in the course of hunting and encounters with
intruders happen outside their camp-grounds. Both events involve intents
and outcomes where life is lost. Both are situations loaded with uncer-
tainty, unpredictability and danger, since the animal and the intruder faced
are not part of the Andamanese world. From the Andamanese perspective
they are both other, creating similar contexts in which the hunter is
involved in life-taking activities.
Hunting is regarded as a deliberate, collective act of the appropriation
of nature by the conjunction of predatory human beings and animal
relations. It is a mode of subsistence based on principles of common access
to the means of production and the subsequent sharing of produce
(Ingold, 1980, 1991). The very act of hunting is a violent, bloody act that
often seems to a non-hunting community as distinctly other, or as some-
thing that differentiates them from the ways of savages. Just as in hunting
the animal in nature is appropriated by the hunter, the violent killing of
humans is an invocation by hunters to appropriate those from outside of
their world. Ongee explanations for what they committed on the bodies of
the outsiders they killed tend to validate this line of enquiry. In this light I
want to compare the killing of pigs in the forest as practised by the hunters
with the observations and accounts of how settlers have been killed by
Jarwas. The act of killing and the exhibitions of violence from a non-
Andamanese tribal perspective may appear grotesque, as they involve the
mutilation of corpses, both human and animal. But to the tribal people, the
life-taking event is an unfolding of the Andamanese logic as to how to take
life. It is not just killing and hunting which are involved but a highly sys-
tematic and structured procedure that makes violence an Andamanese way
of dealing with matter (animals/intruders) that are outside; these have to
be made Other before they are appropriated and moved within and
beyond Andamanese culture.
Through a prescribed sequence of procedures and actions, including
acts of cutting and the letting of blood, the pig as an animal within the
domain of nature is made into meat that can be taken from the forest to
the communal camp-site where it is finally transformed and distributed as
portions to be cooked within families. Just as the animal lies outside the
camp-site, so do human beings who have no right to be present in the forest.
Outsiders are dealt with like the hunted pig. Strangers are killed but kept
in the forest, and only transformed parts of their being can be brought into
the campground. In comparing the two contexts I will use ethnographic
accounts and observations of hunting from Andamanese cultures, especi-
ally the Ongees of the Little Andaman Islands, and historical accounts and
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narratives of the people involved in the recovery of individuals killed in the

Jarwa territory of the Middle Andamans.8

Andamanese ideas of violence, blood and peace

Violence as a social and cultural category draws on a range of ideas and

properties, practical (instrumental), and symbolic (expressive), often
bringing together in a position of tension the performer, the victim and
the witnesses of violent acts. The performance of violence in Andamanese
culture may involve relatively little by way of specialized equipment or eso-
teric knowledge (Riches, 1986: 1011), but cultural prescriptions do exist
as to how violence is expressed. Violent images within Andamanese culture
indicate the use of violence as a source of metaphoric signification, and this
requires uncovering the rationale through which violence has come to rep-
resent ideas beyond the normal association of violence with the imparting
of physical hurt (cf. Chagnon, 1977; Dentan, 1968).
Violence not only implies hostility, resentment and contestation, but is
also an exchange. Violent events are reciprocated either by other violent
acts or by non-violent, peace-making events. Peace ceremonies indicate a
resolution of hostility and a control of violence. Such ceremonies are well
recorded for Andamanese cultures. Radcliffe-Brown in 19068 observed
and reported such a peace-making ceremony (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 134),
but said little about why peace-making ceremonies needed to be initiated.
E.H. Man, who observed Andamanese culture in 18691880, did not report
on peace-making ceremonies, but instead asserted that warfare and hostil-
ity was expressed (1883: 1356) and is part of Andamanese psychology and
morals (1883: 245). Perhaps these different ethnographic accounts
reflect changing administrative concerns and historical experiences
(Pandya, 1991, 1999a). It is possible to argue that peace-making ceremonies
were a later, post-contact innovation, or that the early ethnographers were
more concerned with hostility than peace-making.
Radcliffe-Browns accounts indicate that hostility originated because of
breaches to territorial rights (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 267, 29), a lack of
hospitality extended to visiting groups and continued, long-standing feuds
(1964: 845). In fact the custom of hospitality, patterns of child adoption
which crossed regional territories and the overlap of dialects spoken across
the region indicate the existence of permeable boundaries between differ-
ent groups. Both the ethnographic accounts of Man and of Radcliffe-Brown
agree on such aspects of Andamanese culture as the art of fighting without
shields, and that in fighting the aim was to come upon your enemies by sur-
prise, kill one or two of them and then retreat (1964: 85). The violent
contact would last only a few minutes, ceasing with the retirement of the
attackers before resistance could be mounted, if those attacked had not fled
into the forest. If the attackers met with any resistance or lost one of their
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

own number they would immediately retreat, and a wounded enemy would
be killed if found. According to Radcliffe-Brown (1964: 87), until 1875,
Andaman Islanders in a given part of the island did not know about other
natives living more than twenty miles from the part of the country identi-
fied as their own. Consequently the whole of the Andamans was divided up
into ten distinct dialect groups (see Pandya, 1991; Temple, 1903; Zide and
Pandya, 1989). This of course made large-scale fighting unknown accord-
ing to Radcliffe-Brown. Man (1883: 1356) recorded that the mutilation of
bodies occurred only in cases of severe aggravation, while everything of the
vanquished that was portable is appropriated and all else is injured or
destroyed (Man, 1883: 136). For Radcliffe-Brown, peace-making is not a
moral custom or a technical custom, but a ceremonial custom (1964: 889)
for which a special day is negotiated and fixed. The symbolic presence of
violence and bloodshed that once differentiated the groups as us and other
is deconstructed in a sequence of rituals. The idea that violence and blood-
shed is the concern of the peace-making ceremony is confirmed by the fact
that the shredded leaf of the Tetranthera tree (koro) is used to make orna-
ments for dancers, and the screen for the dancing area. The trees wood is
also used for making the arrow shafts used for killing pigs as well as human
beings. Leaves of the tree mark the ceremony of the girls first menstrua-
tion, and shavings from the same trees wood mark the individuals who
undertake the act of homicide. The leaves of the koro are also used to
adorn such individuals upon their return, so as to protect them during the
period of purification which follows bloodshedding. Koro, as a significant
plant substance, is associated with death, the flow of blood and hostility,
obviously a cluster of interrelated ideas (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 2901).
Koro plant substances are used as cultural markers of boundary transgres-
sion and transcendence which create differences of otherness (Radcliffe-
Brown, 1964: 1335). Arrows made from koro create a division between life
and death (Pandya, 1990: 786); koro coverings mark the difference
between mature and immature women in terms of menstrual blood flow.
These aspects of koro are utilized to transform and mark enemies and
friends at peace-making ceremonies that prevent future blood flows, deaths
and boundary transgressions. Ethnographic accounts indicate that hostility
creates the other, and the peace ceremony terminates this otherness. Logi-
cally, it could be deduced that a lack of peace ceremony sustains the other-
ness between Andamanese groups. In Andamanese culture bloodshed9 and
violence are associated with borders and boundaries and with things that
are differentiated. In other words, violence installs and sustains the other
produced by the bloodshed.
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Andamanese ideas of violence, anger and weight

For the Andamanese, violence is also associated with expressive acts of

anger. There is no exact term in Ongee language for violence, but the word
eranabeti (anger) is used to express the idea of violence. For Ongees, eran-
abeti implies feelings of anger that generate acts of making things light in
weight. These actions include bloodshedding and throwing items around.
As a result anger and violence are concretized and expressed by dismantling
and breaking things apart. So storms are a form of spirit anger signified by
uprooted trees littered along the coast line, which also mark the experience
of temporal duration before and after a storm (Leach, 1971; Pandya, 1993:
2434; Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 1567, 352).
The manifestation of violence makes heavy things into light things, cre-
ating geebeeti (broken things). The Ongee term geebeeti implies a negative
other something that is not what it was. However, in Ongee culture, gee-
beeti is manifest at two different levels. Within ones own group, anger
related to violence is erakeji (endo anger) where one can break only ones
own possessions and do nothing to cause a real loss of weight.10 The anger
expressed against an outsider is alebukey (exo anger). Here anger can
make things light as well as broken, and actions can be inflicted upon both
people and objects that do not belong to an individual or the individuals
group which is expressing anger. As a result of anger being distinguished
at these two different levels, actions within a camp-site condition peoples
attitude and future actions. Angry individuals tend to destroy their own
things, breaking baskets, dismantling arrow heads, disconnecting canoe
outriggers and walking away into the forest for a day or two. Violence dis-
played on objects made and owned by an individual who is upset, and
leaving the camp-site, results in that person becoming Other for a short
time (cf. Man, 1883: 42; Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 4850). So anger is a
restricted expression; the violence must not affect others or their property.
Inflicting violence on the belongings of a fellow camp-mate transforms that
person into an other, separate and different from the angry individual
himself. Having undertaken acts of violent destruction, the angry indi-
vidual must move into the forest and stay away, and is regarded as becom-
ing heavy again (cf. Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 133). During their absence the
individual who has moved away becomes an other no longer related to
those within the camp. In order to achieve a resolution, the whole camp
must come together in order to restore and repair the things that were
broken apart. Baskets are re-tied; canoe outriggers are re-attached; arrow-
heads are re-bound. As the individual returns to camp from the forest,
Ongees offer food and point out that all that was made light and severed
has been put back, the weight is placed where it should be stay within the
heaviness as embodied in the camp-site and with ones own people.
Among Ongees, then, the term gatuwey (to discard, to lighten) or
tolakeby (to cut or break) are the closest terms used to connote the idea of
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

violence and connected feeling of anger. In the Andamanese world view,

things that are not of others but ones own should remain heavy, immov-
able and never severed. Only things belonging to the outside or associated
with others are subject to violence and actions that reify their otherness.
Consequently, when Jarwas visit the settlements of outsiders, they make it
a point to break down shelters, fell trees, kill domestic animals and remove
clothes, metal implements and other utensils. Here we find Jarwas, through
acts of violence, emphasizing the foreignness of others. Ongees also acted
in this way during early periods of contact with outsiders. The Ongees trans-
pose feelings of anger from their experience of natural phenomena and of
interpersonal relations on to myths and history. They explain the presence
of violence committed by outsiders on their own island as a form of kugey
(war) that occurs in ones own territory as opposed to that of others. Such
bloodshed and dismantling produced the light rocks that appear pro-
truding along the coastline of the Little Andaman Island.
Since many of our own people died in these events. In war we are affected
adversely, dead outsiders and their ships become rocks that do not sink in water
nor break apart; they stand in the middle of the sea water.
Imbalances in confrontations as embodied in warfare with outsiders or with
spirits (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 198) are regarded by Ongees as creating
things that are neither light nor capable of disintegration. They remain
anomalous, like the floating rocks created out of violent confrontations
which have never been resolved (Pandya, 1993: 7).

Hunting pigs: the transformation of otherness through


For Ongees, acts of violence practised only on outside bodies entail two
basic operations: cutting, to make a body motionless, followed by disem-
bowelling, which alters its weight, making it light. To lacerate a living thing
denies its capacity to move away from the place of encounter. Consequently,
during a war, enemies killed become rocks who cannot move and remain
where they are encountered. In the same manner, acts of evisceration make
dead outsiders easy to be moved as they are light. Within the Ongee world
view this is an essential act as the Ongee spirits pick up light people and
take them away to other worlds (cf. note 10). So violence both constitutes
the other and makes it possible to deal with the other. This idea defines the
process of pig hunting among Ongees as well as in Andamanese cultures at
large (see Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 37). Violence and the projection of anger
first establish the external, exterior to the culture, and then transform this
into the other so that it can be properly appropriated through a sequence
of actions, shifting it from foreign subject into an object which can be incor-
porated within the camp-site. Andamanese killing and hunting is much like
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social poetics (Herzfeld, 1985) or social aesthetics (Brenneis, 1987); it is a

performance through which sense-making and self-making experiences
coalesce as strategized, consequential events.
From the month of May until September, when wetter south-east winds
blow, the Andamanese reside deep in their forest camps comprised of four
to ten families living in circular camp-grounds. In the centre is the camp-
fire with a cane scaffolding built about 4 feet above a slow-burning fire. Indi-
vidual family lean-tos have their own cooking fire. Ongees describe this
period as when Spirits are hunting turtles making the sea a rough place
and we humans are in the forest surrounded by ripe forest fruits that pigs
feed on and they are fat and heavy! They are ready to be heard and taken
[i.e. hunted].
In the forest, men track the pigs and ambush them. Dogs have been
used for tracking since their introduction in 1858. However, the Jarwas do
not use dogs. Silence is crucial in order to hear the pigs movement. Once
a pig is located, hunters surround the pig with loud shouts and discharge
their pig hunting arrows (chenekwe). These specially designed pig hunting
arrows are common to both Jarwas and Ongees. They are distinct since they
have a detachable arrow shaft, tied with a length of cord to a large arrow
head and have prominent barbs. Once an arrow is released and implants
itself in the pigs body, the arrow shaft becomes detached from the arrow
head, but remains connected by a metre-long cord and is dragged along by
the shot pig. Often the shaft becomes entangled in the undergrowth, and
the arrow heads barbs are further implanted in the pigs body. This slows
the pig and often it stands still due to acute pain experienced by its attempts
to escape the hunters. The design of pig hunting arrows and the logic of
inflicting violence in order to make things immovable are connected
(Pandya, 1990). As Ongees say, Arrows do not kill but anchor down the pig
in its forest where we are moving and looking to attack it it becomes sense-
less, it stands still until we move close and end its ability to move away!
The loud noise of the scared and bleeding pig, along with the shouts
of the hunters, often attract nearby hunters to the site. The struggling pig
is surrounded by the hunters, but is turned on its back and dragged away
some distance so that it can be held down. The hunters then hold down the
head of the pig and quickly twist it in order to break its neck and calm it
down. Next comes the crucial step of taking a machete or an arrow head
and, in complete silence, making a deep plunge near the neck, and running
a sharp blade down to the stomach all the way to the groin region. Blood
oozes out much like juice from the first cut made in a whole watermelon.
The silence is broken by the hunters declaring that The pig is about to go!
Often, under the supervision and with the assistance of more experienced
hunters, the sexual organs near the groin are pulled out and thrown back
to the place where the pig was cornered. Handfuls of blood are thrown into
the air, an act referred to as galujebe (offering) in the Ongee language. The
scattered blood marks the dispersal of the pigs smell in the forest so that
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

living pigs in the forest and the spirits are deceived into believing that no
pigs are missing due to the hunting of human beings (cf. Radcliffe-Brown,
1964: 362). The cut made in the pigs body which indicates the de-sexing
of the pig, and the scattering of the blood, is done in silence; it marks the
end of the pig as a living, mobile subject (gaukwey living/moving pig), and
begins the transformation of the animal into an object that has been
hunted through an act of violence. It also makes the pig gender-less (tam-
The next step is to remove the liver, the lungs and kidneys that are col-
lectively referred to as gachengey (literally the best bits). These are wrapped
in leaves and placed on an open fire to be cooked in the forest. The removal
of the best parts for the Ongee marks a further transformation in which
the pig is made light. The living pig, once outside part of the forest, is now
something other than what it was. As the internal organs are cooked the dis-
embowelled, light body is stuffed with leaves and its four hooves are cut off
(geerangey), slit and placed in the bottom of a basket to be carried back to
the camp. Only after the internal organs are consumed can the men proceed
back to camp with the body of the hunted, leaf-stuffed pig with its broken
neck and its cut hooves (see Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 116, 272). As those at
the camp come to greet the returning hunters, often with leaves tied around
their bows and waists, members of the hunting party declare in very soft
voices: We have the light one but it is not senseless yet for cooking.
The central camp-fire is re-stocked with wood and the hunters place the
pig on top. Women from the houses of the hunters place the cut up pigs
hooves on top of their shelters thatch. The hooves are always deposited on
the shelters of the families traditionally associated with the particular
section of the forest in which the pig was hunted and killed.
Men from the hunting party sit around the fire and keep turning the
pig, taking care that it is singed all over and swells up. While this is going
on, the men start to retell their experiences of their day in the forest. This
transformation of the pig is known as spirit cooking. For Ongees this
scorching of the pig makes the gender-less pig into something devoid of
senses. Like the de-sexing, this de-sensing is completed when the heat swells
the apertures of the eyes, nose, ears and mouth and the skull starts burst-
ing open and various fluids ooze out. Now the transformation of the hunted
pig is complete and the animal is referred to as cooked meat (gebo). Until
this point the pig is always addressed as Senseless-Pig and not as food or
meat. The head is now completely detached and placed in a separate con-
tainer to be boiled in water over the camp-fire. The hunted animal without
senses, without sexual organs and without the capacity to run away is now
cut up into portions, and the meat and fat are stacked up for distribution
between members of the camp. The back legs are reserved for relatives
associated with the areas of the forest in which the pig was hunted. Visitors
to the camp-site receive the fatty sides of the carcass, as they are the pre-
ferred portion of the pig.
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The head is boiled for a whole night and day and finally placed on the
top of the fire, smoked and dried. Then it is hung on the rafters of the lean-
tos belonging to the hunter who killed it, ensuring that through the release
of its smell future hunting will be successful (see Pandya, 1993: 1445; Rad-
cliffe-Brown, 1964: 274, 467). For Ongees, the hunting process comes to an
end when the pig has been systematically cut, made light and processed as
food cooked within the camp-ground. Life-taking involves not just killing
with arrows but also a series of cuts, disembowelling, offerings and the con-
sumption of special parts in the forest before the pig can be brought into
the camp and processed for distribution as food. The entire procedure
transforms the pig from a forest beast into a cultural subject. Consequently
the distinct terms which refer to the pig of the forest such as kueangabe
(female) or kuelong (male) are not used once the animal is de-sexed, dis-
embowelled and the internal organs have been eaten in the forest. The pig
is then referred to as kuwe. After the carcass has been singed on the fire and
made completely senseless and light, it is referred to as galebe, and after it
has been cut up and distributed for the final transformation of cooking it
is referred to as tambanua.
The series of transformations involved in the hunting of the pig and its
processing recapitulates and replicates the structure of practice and the
practice of structure relating to the control of anger and violence in
Andamanese culture in relation to outsiders. The idea that the pig in the
forest (outside the camp) is subject to a series of processes of transformation
because it exists beyond the cultural domain of human beings is further sub-
stantiated in Ongee legends and myths pertaining to pigs. In the past, pigs,
scared by thunder and storms (seen by the Ongees as forms of spirit anger),
ran into the forest and lost their senses, becoming pigs lacking eyes, ears
and noses (cf. Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 218). In other words they became
galebe (senseless and motionless). They would stand motionless waiting for
the spirits to come down to the island and feed them. The feeding caused
them to swell, making them big and heavy, like the full moon, and then
they would burst open, enabling the tooth-less spirits to devour their soft
juicy parts inside their bodies and bones. None of the other animals real-
ized what the spirits were doing since the pigs could not see, hear or smell.
One day, during the wet season, the ancestors of the Ongee found two huge
fat pigs, captured them, and placed them upturned on an open camp-fire.
The pigs started to expand, and holes soon burst open in the skulls. Now
the senseless pigs possessed eyes, nostrils and ears. They jumped up from
the covering of leaves on the open fire and realized that they were going to
be cooked and die. They ran away, in different directions.
Now the pigs realized that they were considered as food by the spirits
as well as by humans, and they became difficult to capture. With senses pigs
were no longer galebe; they became male and female pigs who could repro-
duce sexually. In summer they would grow larger by feeding on forest fruits
and, progressively, different senses would develop. Spirits and humans
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

agreed to divide up the times for hunting pigs in the forest and the pigs of
the seas (turtles transformed from pigs). In the late dry summer period
(October to March) the pigs expanded in the forest looking for food, and
the spirits would hunt and eat them. As the the wet season began (May to
September), it was time for humans to enter the forest and hunt the pigs.
It became important for Ongees to ensure a future supply of pigs by
hunting them in the correct season and by killing and processing them in
the correct way. They needed to be cut, de-sexed, disembowelled, made
light and senseless, and singed. Like the spirits, humans singe the pigs,
saving the hooves and skulls so that the odour of the hunted animals con-
tinues to exude beyond the camp, letting the pigs outside believe that those
that had been hunted were not really missing. This deception, made poss-
ible through retaining the transformed bones of the hunted animal,
ensures the future success of the pig hunters.

Killing people: the violent transformation of outsiders

The appropriate appropriation of pigs as hunted in the forest reflects how

certain operations involving violence condition the way in which an animal
is killed to make food. The retaining of processed bones indicates that even
though the outsideness of the hunted animal is incorporated within the
camps ground, a connection through the flow of smells across the camp
and forest boundary retains the integrity of the two domains. Proper
hunting, processing, cooking and retaining of bones ensures that connec-
tions are maintained and ensures that hunting success will continue in the
future. Similar concerns are evident in dealing with the body of a dead rela-
tive within the community. Once an individual dies a second burial is held
and the skull or the lower jaw bone, along with smaller bones such as the
finger digits or collar bones, are recovered (Man, 1883: 178; Radcliffe-
Brown, 1964: 11213, 126, 184, 2923). These bones are made into orna-
ments (Icke-Schwalbe, 1986; Thomson, 1882) and retained within the
camp-site to gain assistance from ancestral spirits in order to protect the
living from dangers or to cure the sick. Much like the preserved bones of
the hunted animals, the bones of dead humans are retained to maintain a
connection between separate worlds, that of the living and that of the bone-
less spirits. However, the bones of outsiders are rarely retained (Man, 1883:
178). Ongees emphasize that in the past the bodies of outsiders were mostly
cut up, burnt or thrown into the sea. Few bones of outsiders were retained
for future security. The corpse of a dead human body and the carcass of a
hunted animal body establish that both types of remains are texts through
which cultural discourse and social collectivity becomes a dimension of con-
sciousness. The Andamanese treat bodies as multi-level signifiers of prac-
tice in which natural and social relations are simultaneously constituted.
The question which remains is, in light of the treatment of bodies, are
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there any mutually constitutive relationships, metaphorically and/or

metonymically, in the way outsiders are hunted, killed and processed in
Jarwa forests? The treatment of hunted pigs and of dead bodies involves
mutually constituted relationships between social bodies and personal
bodies. But are Andamanese ideas about anger and the violence inflicted
on outsiders culturally related? Are the forms of classification concerning
anger, violence, outsiders and insiders connected? Do events such as
hunting in the shrinking forest and the increased killing of intruders in the
forest involve identical topologies of violence?
At one level, both forms of violence are embedded within the
Andamanese idea of the world, as well as the wider political and historical
terrain. Just as the pig lives outside the social world but, through a sequence
of hunting, killing and processing is transformed into a useful social form,
so intruders in the Jarwa forest and historical visitors to the Ongees of the
Little Andamans are also incorporated into a useful social form. The vio-
lence inflicted on the pig and on the intruder is similar in its pattern, since
both subjects of otherness are signified by cultural practices involving acts
such as laceration and evisceration.
Intentionally or inadvertently, outsiders enter Jarwa territory. Fre-
quently, settlers from the area around the reserve forest enter Jarwa terri-
tory to cut timber or hunt illegally, and, on the western coast, to fish and
collect shells. Settlers sometimes enter the forest from their adjacent fields
to retrieve cattle which have wandered into the Jarwas forest while grazing.
Efforts are made to minimize such intrusions into Jarwa territory, but this
is not easy due to the rough terrain, the extent and close proximity of the
road to the forest, and the increasing size of settlements. To control this
movement, the Bush Police have been established, who patrol the wild
areas marked by sign-posts. Often it is the gun-carrying Bush Police, dressed
in khaki uniforms, who hunt wildlife and exploit forest products.11
During my 19923 fieldwork, I was involved in a number of expeditions
with Jarwas. One aspect that I investigated was how people close to the Jarwa
area interact with Jarwas, and how they articulate their fears and concepts
of Jarwa hostility. I encountered a range of people, including local farmers,
hunters, administrative officials and individuals employed within the police
service. My conversations and interviews with those working in the Bush
Police for decades, and residents who have been in the forest either to
recover missing bodies or who were involved in illegal activities, combined
with administrative and police reports, reveal a common picture of how
Jarwas kill outsiders. It is possible that some of the accounts romanticized
the violence, but nonetheless they present an uncanny and consistent
image of what happens to individuals who are confronted with hostile,
savage, and angry Jarwas. Although none of my sources claimed to be an
observer or reader of Andamanese culture in Geertzs sense (1973), the
various accounts provided a consistency of Jarwa actions and clues to the
way in which pigs are hunted and humans killed.12
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

Outsiders who enter the forest make sure they are not wearing khaki
since it appears to attract Jarwas, oriented as they are to observe the Bush
Police patrolling the forest in groups. Since it is illegal to enter the forest,
and doing so may result in confrontation with Jarwas, settlers enter mostly
in small hunting groups. Essential equipment includes a flash-light to stun
wild deer and pigs, a gun wrapped in cloth, a machete and food supplies.
It is reported that outsiders are followed by Jarwas, although they are
seldom aware that this is happening. Jarwas always track and pursue out-
siders in greater numbers than the intruding outsiders. This is done in com-
plete silence and their sudden attack makes the tracking of outsiders and
of pigs identical in the Jarwa strategy. A settler in Ferrargunj reported:
The very sight of a dark naked Jarwa incapacitates and freezes one in the dense
forest, much like a pig or deer caught in the flash-light of the hunter. But in
this case the hunters are hunted by the Jarwas.

Arrows are fired from a close range before the intruder can react, and
the situation may develop into a hand-to-hand scuffle. Such encounters may
end with the outsiders forced to lie on the ground while Jarwas slash their
limbs. This closely resembles the treatment given to trapped pigs. The body
of an outsider is subjected to anger and cut up as alien to the Jarwa com-
munity. Police reports are consistent with those of individual accounts. The
attacked bodies are always dragged some distance from the initial location
of the attack, usually towards the coastline side or towards the outsiders
settlement, but never further into the Jarwa forest. This parallels the fact
that during hunting, a pigs body is dragged from the place where the
arrows have penetrated the pig. However, in the case of attacking intrud-
ers, it is anger that makes the body subject to numerous cuts while it is trans-
formed from a living body to a corpse, and it is not to be incorporated into
Jarwa culture, or moved to their territory. It is always dragged and placed
in a direction away from Jarwa camps. Like the blood of the hunted pig scat-
tered in the forest, the personal belongings of the killed person are torn
from the corpse and shredded. In some cases limbs are hacked off and
pushed into a small pile in the direction from which the outsider had come.
Often these piles are covered with loose dirt, indicating to the Bush Police
where to locate a missing body. However, an experienced Bush Policeman
at the Annicut and Jhirkatang camp insisted that such things indicate not
only the location of the dead body, but in the opposite direction the loca-
tion of the trail leading to a Jarwa camp-site. These tracks have led Bush
Police to unoccupied Jarwa camp-sites where the chopped-up finger digits
of the victims have been found. This was well remembered by the police
team sent to recover bodies on Flat Island in July 1977.13
Settlers correctly insist that the Andamanese forests have no carnivor-
ous animals. But they maintain the stomachs of bodies recovered often are
cut open and the organs and intestines pulled out. The implication is that
this is because of Jarwa actions. Again this resembles the Ongees making
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hunted pigs light. The frequency of such disembowelment reported in

police records is limited, but it is the most prominent image in the reports
of the deaths of settlers at the hands of Jarwa. Their fertile, morbid imagi-
nations have some basis in fact. According to the Bush Police, reports of
the violent and ruthless slashes and cuts made to male genitalia of the
victims are never released to the press, since this would sensationalize a sen-
sitive issue.14 However, on occasion, information about recovered bodies is
reported in ways that perpetuate and sustain the settlers view of Jarwas as
violent people. For instance, a local Andaman Islands newspaper, the Daily
Telegram (10 November 1993), reported the recovery of five missing fisher-
man from Wandoor. Their decomposed bodies were found at Foul Bay and
were terribly mutilated. As with the skulls of hunted animals, their lower
jaw bones had been severed and arrows stuck through them. The news item
quoted a high-ranking police official confirming the mutilation of the
recovered bodies and saying this represented a Jarwa means of ensuring
that their souls would not roam about in the form of demons, but instead
would find their heavenly abode.
Relatives of the Wandoor fishermen could not explain why the bodies
were found in Foul Bay, within Jarwa territory, but were concerned that the
returned bodies still had the arrow shafts stuck between the jaws, and that
the victims clothes and parts of their penises were missing. The mutilation
and symbolic de-sexing of the bodies articulated in religious terms most
disturbed the relatives of the victims. For the elder brother of one of the
victims the worst thing was that his father had escaped the Hindu/Muslim
riots of the partition of India and Pakistan, but, as a Bengali Hindu, his
brother had to die as a Muslim at the hands of the Wild Jarwas, who are
neither Hindu nor Muslim, nor are they even humans (cf. Das, 1995;
Kakar, 1995). Often, recovered corpses have arrow shafts driven through
the rectum, all the way to the groin area as if making a symbolic statement
denying the male reproductiveness of the outsiders (cf. Kakar, 1995: 378).
This is much like the treatment of pigs in the forest where they are de-sexed
after capture. The significance of the mutilation of the sexual organs is that
it removes from the pig its reproductive potential and imposes cultural
meanings on to something to be consumed as food.15 Laceration and evis-
ceration of an outsiders body is in accordance with the logic that an out-
siders body is made light. It is an act that is prescribed in the Andamanese
culture to articulate anger. The cuts and mutilation of bodies are culturally
specific markers of the Jarwas desire to emphasize an inappropriate intru-
sion through a meaningful and violent act. Placing parts of the body and
items derived from the victims in particular directions makes the violence
not just a series of random acts but statements which apply a cultural
grammar to violence. This is intended to convey the alien-ness of the
intruder and the need to exclude him from the tribal world. In the case of
pig hunting, care is taken in the act of cutting, the placing of the innards
and the scattering of the blood, since the wild animal is to be transformed
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

and incorporated within the human community as food. But settlers as out-
siders are transformed for exclusion and expulsion.
Police records indicate that the Jarwas often spend some time near sites
where individuals have been killed. This is indicated by traces of fire near
the site and human excrement near the mutilated body. The fire close to
the site of the bloody encounter is consistent with the fires made following
the pig hunt, used to cook the favoured kidney and liver. But none of the
outsiders body is consumed, nor is the body processed into food. Instead
of the outsiders body being transformed into consumable food, actual
transformed and consumed food is excreted by the Jarwa close to the site
where outsiders have been killed.
Anger in the Andamanese culture is controlled. But it is also a form of
communication which makes possible the incorporation of persons, like
the peace-making ceremony that reincorporates enemies into friendly
relations. Life-taking, whether of pigs or outsiders, is communicated and
completes a process of transformation. In the case of the pig hunt a col-
lective transformation of senseless pigs into edible meat involves the rein-
corporation of life through death for the living. But acts of violence and
anger committed on outsiders in the Jarwa forest for their very otherness
cannot be appropriated as with the pig. However, some aspects can be dis-
played within the community. Just as the skulls of hunted pigs hang under
the shelters, so parts of the bodies of outsiders are incorporated within the
camp-site. As markers of violent moments when the statement about the
other was made, Jarwas incorporation of elements from an outsiders body
and the external world transforms them into culturally meaningful objects.
Although some parts of the victims are never recovered, often fabrics
and metal are reshaped and used by the Jarwas. Cloth pieces are shredded
and woven into ornamental bands worn around the neck and arms. This
practice was observed earlier by members of contact expeditions.16 In many
unoccupied Jarwa camp-sites, metal pots and containers refashioned into
cutting blades and arrowheads have been found (see Sarkar, 1990). In a
way, the body of an outsider, after being subjected to violence, yields
material of the outside world that is transformed by the Jarwas and incor-
porated as tools in their own world. This is the end of the transformation
brought about by violence. It completes the statement of a cultures capac-
ity to appropriate the other whether it be pigs or other humans. Violence
as a structure of practice, as well as the practice of structure, achieves this
process. Life-taking is an end in itself, creating and defining the other
through violence, but incorporating the other. This makes violence a
process as well as a practice, a product and a subject as well as an object.
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In both contexts (the killing of pigs and of outsiders), there are degrees of
grotesqueness and actions involving dismemberment of the bodies and
their treatment, processing or rejection. The dragging of the body reifies
the debasing of the body hunted and killed. The limbs of both pigs and
outsiders are cut off to prevent mobility and the insides removed in order
to make the corpses light. Andamanese ideas of how to express anger
involve cutting living bodies in a particular manner. So the violence and its
grotesque effects on human and animal bodies are mutually reflective.
Regional patterns of dominance and subordination are common to the pro-
cessing of both animal and human bodies through making visible signs of
violence (George, 1996: 99). But such signs are also a reversal in the
meaning as enacted in culturally composed violent vignettes. The pig is
transformed and incorporated as food; the settler is transformed for expul-
sion. In much the same way as tears can flow for joy as well as sadness, anger
can be expressed in different ways, creating different effects.
From the settlers perspective, the violence experienced is seldom con-
nected to their own inappropriate appropriation of forest resources. Their
experience of violence, however, generates desires for violent revenge, but
also fear and avoidance of wild hostile savages. Violence thus generates
violence, an exchange constructed from these images of the other and sus-
tained by feelings of anger. However, from an Andamanese perspective vio-
lence is not an exchange but a termination of hostility, reflecting
aggravation and resentment. Only selected aspects of the settlers, after
being transformed violently, are incorporated into tribal culture in the
form of objects. Violent actions such as cutting and dismantling, in
Andamanese logic are a means to resolve hostility between us and the
other. The peace-making ceremony and the use of specified plant materi-
als support this idea of us and the other. For the Andamanese, what is
alien is transformed into something that can be absorbed into the inner
and more familiar zones of everyday life. In the case of pig hunting, vio-
lence is an expression of transformation and the means of absorbing that
which is foreign. However, this process, when undertaken in relation to the
intruder, is not aimed at incorporation, but at first creating a new meaning,
the Andamanese meaning of not self but the other (see McKinley, 1976:
123). The other hunted pig, settler intruding into forest or angry indi-
vidual within tribal community is subject to violence (immobilization and
lightening of weight) and violence creates the other for life transferred
from outside through prescribed actions (Hocart, 1969, 1970: 33). The
bodies of hunted pigs and the bodies of killed humans are therefore not
only vehicles, but also indicators of a ritualized history. Settlers view the
acts of violence as a perpetuation of tribals as other, in an ongoing hostile
process, whereas the tribals, through violence, make statements about ter-
minating hostility because the settlers cannot be incorporated into the
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

tribal world. This is why acts on outsiders bodies in early colonial times
were seen as cannibalistic. The idea of violence in pig hunting and the
killing of outsiders is an important symbolic statement which distinguishes
between the practice of violence as a ritual form of making the other, and
a trope of taking life which establishes a new political landscape. From an
outsiders perspective, violent death appears merely as a result of being in
the wrong place at the wrong time. Settlers have taken the tribal practice
of hunting animals involving the loss of animal life as a figurative extension
of the term hunting to the modern, postcolonial mythology of hunting
and external powers where the loss of human life becomes a trope. This
trope is employed to speak metaphorically about relationships, such as the
unequal voices of tribal and non-tribal communities involved within the dis-
course of the changing situation on the islands. Implicit in hunting and vio-
lence is not just a deliberate action of appropriation, but also a process of
making the other for self. However, the other is made in accordance with
self, and once the other is made then only it can be appropriated for self.
This implicit concern for self and other in the violent acts regulates anger
and the taking of life in Andamanese culture. For the tribals the pig hunt
is taking something from outside, but from an outsiders perspective it
presents a situation whereby both pigs and outsiders are hunted by Jarwas.
Non-tribals on the Andaman Islands regard encroachers and poachers
being hunted by Jarwas as a savage violent action. Jarwa actions are
regarded as an indigenous critical response to the imposition of external
power: that is, the power of administration and outsiders that wants Jarwas
confined in a reserved area while the non-tribal population keeps increas-
ing around the reserved area. A local political leader insisted that:
All the efforts to civilize Jarwas are useless, they need to be rounded up and
like the British did with other tribals, settled. We need to put them in a place
where they can not hunt but cultivate! This alone will stop tribals from hunting
animals and humans. It would be good for the eco tourism. If settlers are not
expected to hunt then why do the tribals continue to hunt? Since tribals have
shortage of what they can hunt while living in the forest they attack us.
In the world view of the ever increasing numbers of outsiders settling
on the Andaman Islands, the precision with which animals and humans are
killed has, over a period of time, eroded the distinction between hunting
as a historical practice and the killing of outsiders. Killing was a historical
product and practice that has become a trope since colonial times and con-
tinues in postcolonial times as an issue of violence. Today, in this recon-
structed trope, what is missing is for tribal neighbours to enter into a peace
ceremony. Instead Jarwas have to deal with the outsiders who have settled
around them. Failure on the part of the outsiders to recognize the violence
as a process in the Andamanese tribal cultural discourse has led to the for-
mation of judgemental values about Jarwas. In the Andamanese tribal
context, violence is not necessarily associated with vengeance or revenge,
but is a way to deal with what is outside that has to be transformed into
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something that can fit into the scheme of the culture. This orientation
alone makes it possible to consider the contemporary image of hunting as
reflecting tensions between indigenous tribal groups protected by the state,
and outsiders who are killed by the Jarwas (see Pandya, 1999a, 1999b). For
both the tribal and non-tribal groups, it is a form of articulating protest
against the loss of political autonomy. But whose idea of autonomy is right
and for whom is it valid? Both the settlers and the tribals of the Andaman
Islands make distinctions among cultures and create a dialectic of other and
non-other, just as anthropologists do. Said (1979: 45) is right in insisting
that any division of humanity into us and them leads to hostility and
that, while this might be unavoidable, the process of differentiation
achieved by violent acts is not just a dehumanizing activity but a cultural
one. Violence continues, and in its continuity is the making of a structure
that is fundamentally a hostile dichotomy. The structure of hostility per-
petuates the practice of the violence which attempts to resolve the dialec-
tics of sameness and otherness into a transcendent violence. Violence
becomes the means to make the other. Beyond the cry of atrocity and
morality of the violence, the Andamanese vignettes of violence show an
ongoing process, sequential reflexive differentiation of interpreting and
transforming subject and object undertaken by both the hostile divisions of
us and the others. Both the tribals and settlers are hunters in the forest,
but they differ in the way they undertake hunting. Both settlers and tribals
are subject to being violently transformed from subject to objects created
by hostile encounters. There is a mutual contempt that perpetuates the vio-
lence and projects images of us and the other on each other in violent


Since 1998 a significant number of Jarwas have started walking out of the
forest and coming to the roadside around the Kadamtalla region. They
contact the settlers and the administration in daytime. According to settlers,
this is not regarded as hostility, but as Jarwas trying to become like us.
There is now a situation on the streets where Jarwas have become objects
of exhibition and are demanding clothes and food. In greed, Jarwas often
snatch what they want from the settlers and the tourists who come to see
them. The administration and the regional anthropological office of the
government of India are trying to understand and control the situation.
The outcome of this contact and transformation of violence is a matter of
ongoing concern.
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

Much of the analysis of this material has benefited from my discussions with S.
Awaradi, James Urry, Niko Besnnier, Katy Miller and Louise Grenside. Research
grants from Victoria University, Wellington, a senior research fellowship from the
American Institute for Indian Studies and Wenner-Gren Foundation made it
possible to conduct field research from 1992 to 1994. I am grateful to the Andaman
Nicobar Administration and AAJVS for allowing me to explore the aspects of Jarwa
culture on Andaman Islands.

1 Marx (1967) and Durkheim (Durkheim and Mauss, 1963) have argued differ-
ently about forms of human experience within which collective constructs of
the body appear both as natural and social, and also ineffable. In fact a
human body is often viewed as the raw material, the pre-social base, upon
which collective categories and values can be engraved (see Bourdieu, 1977;
Comaroff, 1985; Douglas, 1970; Mauss, 1973; Turner, 1967: 93f; Van Gennep,
2 Anthropology no longer speaks with automatic authority for others defined as
unable to speak for themselves (primitive, pre-literate, without history)
(Clifford, 1986: 10).
3 The Islands historical importance increased when prisoners from South-East
Asia and mainland South Asia were brought to the Andamans after 1857. The
isolated location of the island, inhabited only by a hostile tribal population,
made the Andamans a perfect location for a prison. By 1858 the process of
clearing the forest for a penal settlement was undertaken. Captain John
Campbell wrote in favour of selecting the Andamans for a penal settlement:
Convicts cannot be prevented from escaping when working on the mainland,
but they will here in Andamans escape to the jungles and cannot get away from
the Andamans, as the savages are far too hostile to allow one to escape
(Portman, 1899). The belief was that prisoners had no means of escape and,
even if they did break out of the jail, the dense forests, the tribal people or the
surrounding rough sea would claim those not quickly recaptured (see Pandya,
1997). In fact, within six to ten months of the arrival of the first shipload of 733
convicts, 87 prisoners were hanged because they were caught attempting to
escape; 40 prisoners were found dead in the vicinity of the penal settlement,
killed by native arrows; 70 prisoners were reported to have escaped and dis-
appeared without trace (letter no. 1079 dated 12 July 1859 from J.P. Walker to
C. Beadon, Secretary to the Government of India). Historically this is also a
discourse of violence derived from the colonial past when the islands were part
of a colonial penal system a violent system in terms of concept and practice
(cf. Foucault, 1979). This past construct has indeed affected the settlers
discourse on otherness and the tribals views of the place of violence in their
relations with settlers.
4 In the early morning hours of 17 May 1859, one party of tribal Andamanese
proceeding along the shore was stopped by the gunfire of the Naval Guard, but
another party, in spite of gunfire, reached the convict work station and
occupied it. Fresh British troops arrived and half an hour of plundering was
brought to an end with several Andamanese killed and wounded, and some
taken prisoner. This attack was subsequently dubbed the Battle of Aberdeen.
It was the first organized, large-scale attack by the Andamanese tribes on the
convict settlers and their British guards. However, opinions and interpretations
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Pandya: Making of the Other

of the incident differ. Some regard it as an insignificant attack of the ordinary

type, which the natives often made for plunder, except, in this particular case,
an escaped prisoner may have organized the large-scale assault (see Pandya,
1997). Reverend Corbyn, the surgeon at the settlement, referred to the clash
as a ludicrous skirmish. But administrators like Portman attached great import-
ance to it (Portman, 1899, vol. 1: 422). Far from being a ludicrous skirmish, it
was a most desperate and determined attack with the intention of exterminat-
ing the settlers (1899: 279, 288).
5 On average, each person killed by Jarwa results in a payment of about $350 by
government administration as compensation for the loss. All hostile attacks which
involve death are registered as crimes under the Indian Police Code (IPC)
section 302, and IPC 307 in cases of an attempt to kill (when the victim survives).
However, trial courts accept the final report of police (including submission of
the Jarwa arrows recovered as evidence) that the accused could not be traced or
arrested and then the criminal case against the Jarwa is abandoned.
6 In August 1859 convicts clearing the forest were attacked for the second time
that month by tribal people. About 1500 Andamanese, armed with small adzes,
knives, bows and arrows, suddenly attacked two divisions of convicts, about 446
in number, who were cooking in the forest. They killed about ten convicts. The
convicts than retired to the coast and the boat of the naval guard, moored off
the landing place, and escaped under the protecting fire of the guards. Twelve
convicts with fetters on were carried away by the tribesmen and were never
found. It was reported that the tribals vented their wrath upon the section
gangsmen, the sub-division gangsmen and the division gangsmen (distin-
guished by red cloth strips across their chests) but were quite friendly to
ordinary prisoners who wore iron rings around their ankles. These fetters made
them particularly important for the Andamanese who desired the metal. The
attacking group even merrily danced with the latter during the two hours they
were in possession of the encampment. According to Portman, the
Andamanese told him that they objected to the clearing of the jungles (Records
of Home Department Judicial Branch OC No. 32, 29 July 1859, held at National
Archives of India, New Delhi, and Portman, 1899, vol. 1: 2778).
7 Kalimuttu used to be a labourer for the Power and Works Department involved
in clearing a tract of land near what is today called Jhirkatang camp Number
7. Around 4.30 p.m. Kalimuttu Swamy and two other workers were returning
to camp with some stacks of cane and firewood tied up neatly and with their
axes and machetes. He and his co-workers found themselves face to face with
eight armed Jarwas.
We had no idea where they were hiding, they are so dark that they blend
into the thick forest. Since they have no clothes on you cant see them at
all and their bodies being stark naked, our dogs could not smell them and
Two of his companions were killed on the spot, shot in the chest by arrows.
Kalimuttu Swamy, who only had the load of implements and an empty basket,
started throwing things at the Jarwas, thus breaking their formation. The only
thing he retained in his hands was his machete. He started swirling it around
and he believes that some of the Jarwas must have been badly hurt. But in this
process, his body was struck by nearly 20 arrows, mostly in his limbs. Kalimuttu
Swamy survived by being moved to Port Blair hospital within two days, where
he was operated upon to remove the arrows. He proudly showed me all his scars
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Critique of Anthropology 20(4)

and said, These are the marks of Mother goddess Mariamans grace on me!
After the incident, with the compensation given to him in terms of land and
money, Kalimuttu built a Mariyaman temple on a small hill at Jhirkatang No.
2. Since then the goddess has protected him. Following Lincolns (1991: 204)
analysis of beheading and de-breasting as forms of sacrifice effecting the
radical asymmetry between sacrifier and sacrificed, Kalimuttu Swamy -- a
single sacrificer and his violently mutilated body -- now is an icon and instru-
ment for the shifting different powers and identity possible between bodies of
the hunter and hunted, killed or killer. Consequently Swamy today is not only
the main priest of an ever-expanding temple but also makes amulets of black
and red thread with consecrated grass tied to them, that people use for protec-
tion against life in the forest which covers safe childbirth, cure from chronic
illness and, above all, protection from the Jarwas. Residents of Miletilak and
Annecut, who have seen the mutilated and dismembered bodies recovered
from the forest, often see the victims as sacrificed bodies. The grotesque
imagery of dismemberment and rot demonstrates the humiliation of the fallen
victims in a way that stirs curiosity, awe and revulsion. In response to these
feelings, the settlers seldom see their fault in entering the proscribed Jarwa
territory but see the victim as a body sacrificed by the Jarwas to send a message
of anger, revenge and jungleepan (savagery). For the people related to the
body recovered, the violently deformed body is a text read as the disintegration
and debasement of an oppositional or adversarial community of the Jarwas.
8 The Jarwas and the Ongees have historical and cultural connections with each
other (Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 13); this was further substantiated in the course
of my fieldwork within the Jarwa territory, which included bringing Ongees
back into contact with Jarwas in 19923 and the winter of 1994.
9 The Ongee notion of bloodshed and menstruation as an offence and hostile
act is the structuring principle for boys initiation (see Pandya, 1993: 1849).
Bloodshed or violence within an Andamanese context is much like Bourdieus
(1991: 11718) idea of a rite of consecration that treats men and women differ-
ently. The rite consecrates difference, instituting it, while also instituting men
as men and women as women. Bloodshed and violence as a ritualized way of
constructing the other can be read through other ethnographic accounts
beyond the Andamans, as in the case of New Guinea (Brendt, 1962; Tuzin, 1980:
3454) and in South-East Asia (Freeman, 1979; George, 1996; Hoskins, 1989).
10 Among the Ongees, visitors, when greeting hosts, always enquire if the guests are
heavy and safe. A lack of resources and safety is perceived as making individuals light
and susceptible to being carried away by malevolent spirits (Pandya, 1993: 102).
11 This concern has some basis in fact. During late September 1994, while I was
staying in a Bush Police camp, the neighbouring camp, in the region of Tirur,
was attacked by Jarwas in the early hours of the morning. About 50 arrows were
fired into the thatched walls of the camp. Fortunately, none of the Bush Police
was injured, but such incidents are quite common.
12 Systematic and detailed fieldwork among the Jarwas is yet to be undertaken;
however, given their hostility and the degree of difficulty involved, Mr Awaradi,
then the Additional District Magistrate, suggested to me that I undertake what
he calls the method of periscopic technique (1990: 1389) whereby we learn
about the Jarwas from people like the Bush Police who have their own unique
understanding and systems of ideas about Jarwas. I did personally benefit from
Mr Awaradis suggestion and the time spent with Bush Police in outposts. Particu-
larly visiting some of the old Jarwa camp-sites provided a productive insight.
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Pandya: Making of the Other

13 Ongees claim that in the past the outsiders fingers were cut off before they
were killed to make them realize that their presence in Ongee territory was
inappropriate. This resembled the hooves of the pigs cut off to signify their
incapacity to move. Hacking off fingers was also the prescribed punishment for
adulterous males or females caught within the camp-ground.
14 Very little is known about women victims since they seldom enter Jarwa
territory. However, some settlers report that in the 1950s a young girls body
was recovered and she had identical cuts on her body, arrow shafts inserted
into her vagina, and her breasts cut. The other incident recollected is of a
young girl of 7 attacked and killed near Tirur around the early 1980s, but no
mutilation was evident in that case. Perhaps the childs body does not qualify
for making statements about otherness, just as the bones of dead children do
not qualify for being preserved as ornaments. Also, dead children are buried
under the family shelter whereas adults are buried outside residential areas
(Radcliffe-Brown, 1964: 109).
15 Interestingly enough, where we see the pig as a farm animal, or deer as Bambi,
once processed as meat under a butchers cutting blade, they become pork or
venison (cf. Leach, 1966: 4650).
16 Various contact expeditions usually present strips of red cloth to the Jarwas. I
have observed, however, that other fabrics and colours have been incorporated
into ornamental bands worn by Jarwas. In fact, on occasion I gave different
coloured fabrics to different contacted groups and found that on subsequent
visits not only had they been incorporated into ornaments, but they also had
been exchanged between different groups along the western coastline of the
Middle and South Andamans. In some cases, clothes of the contact party that
had been torn up by the Jarwas during a previous contact have been identified
in subsequent contact as incorporated into the body adornments.

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 Vishvajit Pandya is a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at

Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. His research interests include ritual,
cosmology, history, art and design. His field work includes hunters and gatherers
of the Andaman Nicobar Islands and Southeast Asia. Within South Asia he has
conducted research in Western desert and tribal areas. [email: Pandya@]