The Crisis in Metaphors

Climate Vocabularies in Adivasi Literatures

  • Ananya Mishra University of Cambridge


This paper attempts to recover some elisions of Indigenous thought in contemporary literary readings of the non-human, especially those from the Global South. I will focus on Indigenous conceptions of what I term ‘climate vocabularies’ in order to re-read Indigenous articulations of the non-human that have signalled climate as a ‘common organising concept’ (Todd 8) and provided early concerns on anthropogenic impact that has resulted in the current form of the climate emergency. This paper will trace an abridged climate history of eastern India by examining protest songs on mineral extraction, particularly focusing on the recent movements in Kashipur and Niyamgiri. I frame the call for jal, jangal, jameen (water, forests, land) as climate vocabulary because increased human exploitation of the past few centuries on these elements have heavily altered micro-climates of east-Indian geographies. Given Adivasi (Indian Indigenous) communities have been residents of these regions, the call for protection and ownership of jal, jangal, jameen in its many local articulations and transmutations has acquired essential presence across Adivasi movements in South Asia. Here, the materiality of the elements of water, land and forests in its literal sense is paramount. This paper will discuss the poetry of Kondh leader from Kashipur Bhagban Majhi, and Dongria Kondh poet Dambu Praska, to examine the ways in which they present changes in local ecologies brought about by mining as evidentiaries to communicate climate breakdown.

Author Biography

Ananya Mishra, University of Cambridge

ANANYA MISHRA is from Sambalpur, Odisha. She studied for a PhD in English at University of Cambridge where she researched on transnational Indigenous literatures. She was convenor of the Climate Fictions / Indigenous Studies conference at Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Cambridge. She is a lecturer in the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London.

How to Cite
MishraA. (2022). The Crisis in Metaphors. Transmotion, 8(1), 129-175.