National Seminar


14th – 15th March 2016 Invitation

The Department of Sociology, North-Eastern Hill University Shillong under SAP-DSA cordially invites presentation of research papers to the two day Inter-disciplinary National Seminar on ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY : THE CONTEXT OF NORTH EAST INDIA to be held at North- Eastern Hill University, Shillong on the 14th- 15th March,2016



Department of Sociology North-Eastern Hill University Shillong .
14 – 15 March,2016

The significance of the physical environment as a formative factor in shaping human life and existence in a given habitat has become an important area of interest to social scientists in recent times. It has been commonly held that the environmental conditions stimulate human responses in their ideas and actions which in the long run results in the formation of social habits and customs. Living in harmony with nature has been an integral part of traditional and indigenous societies.To them nature has often been exemplified as ‘cultural space’ expressed through its invocation and representation in myths ,ethics, beliefs and folkways. Traditional wisdom of the indigenous communities in particular has endowed them with skills and practices that are reflective of their deep sense of eco-consciousness. This leads one to the concept of ‘holistic ecology’ by which we understand how tribal and indigenous communities have lived in close symbiosis with nature and natural resources and how they view themselves as an integral

component of the eco-system. Here the environment figures as functioning in a dual capacity – on the one hand we have the physical components such as climate,topography,animal and insect life ,vegetation and soil which directly or indirectly shape human activity and productivity, and on the other ,man alters the landscape, fells trees, erodes soil, builds dams etc. moulding the earth to meet his own needs. Moving firmly within such parameters of ‘integrated viewpoint’ of humans within the eco-system boundaries we can pose a few questions before us- “Can society exist apart from environment?” Or “Is environment expressive of society and culture?”

The North East of India presents a dual picture of bio-diversity and socio-cultural diversity. .The tribal communities in this region have maintained a close symbiotic relationship with their natural environment since time immemorial . They have maintained long traditions of depending on the natural resources of their own localities and preserving it besides having an extensive knowledge of the biota, the terrain, the waters, the climate and its seasonal changes, the plants and animals, their habitat preferences and local distribution, behaviour and uses. Such expertise and knowledge generally referred to as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)accumulated on the basis of their experience and has been applied by the local community in their everyday life to obtain food, medicines, fuel wood and other necessities and in avoiding dangerous situations. Forests besides being the source of economic livelihood,have often been revered as the natural abode of spirits. This ‘sacred ‘ character of the forest finds expression in the customary practice of preserving sacred groves amongst many communities in the North East, which are held with high esteem even today.The agro-biocultural links of the tribes and their natural environment has found expression in the various indigenous food habits and agricultural practices of the tribal communities of the region such as jhum cultivation,which has generated a new area of interest in marginalization of land, agro-bio diversity, food security and nutrition,indigenous economies and livelihoods etc.

However,what is of grave concern in recent times is the way in which drastic changes in the environment is taking place.Today we find issues of ‘development’ and ‘environment’ and the ‘politics of environment’ have taken a new turn and acquired centre stage amongst academicians,environmentalists ,scientists ,planners and policy makers.This brings us to the new environmental debate on development options in contemporary India and the ecological limits to growth and development. It is against this backdrop that this seminar seeks to focus on the linkages between culture and ecology.Given the ecological and cultural diversity of North East India ,it is hoped that the seminar would develop a better understanding of the reciprocal interactions between the bio-physical world and the human social world and in the long run contribute towards a healthy respect for the ecological sensibilities of indigenous communities.


1. To have a conceptual and theoretical understanding of the relationship between tribes and their natural environment.

2. To explore the indigenous wisdom of conservation of land, forest , agro-ecology ,women and natural resource management, indigenous economies and livelihood patterns ,local food systems and wild edibles ,Traditional Knowledge System(TKS) of medicinal plants etc.

3.To examine the challenges and problems of the tribes of the region with regard to their access to natural resources such as landlessness ,interventions, displacement, in the light of the existing environmental legislations and enforcement .


1.Ecology,Culture and History : Theoritical considerations

2. Social framework of ecology : Representation of nature in folk tradition, art and culture of the tribes.

3.Ecology and traditional wisdom- sustainable use and conservation practices of land and forest management, agro-biology, local food systems,medicinal plants, local economies and livelihood patterns.

4.:Emerging Issues : Community rights over land and forest, livelihood interventions, development issues, Government legislations versus customary laws with regard to land and forest, Common Property Resources(CPR’s) and access to natural resources etc.


The seminar is inter-disciplinary and therefore it is expected that participants come from different disciplinary backgrounds to share their research experiences in the field and generate long-lasting academic and professional relationships.


1 Abstracts (within 200 words) along with full papers should reach the undersigned on or before the 1st of March,2016 via email .( Paper presenters should clearly indicate particulars such as full name,sex, designation ,contact number and institution(s) affiliated.

2.Full length paper should be typed in MS word, Times New Roman with font size 12 and 1.5 line spacing Paper presenters are advised to follow the referencing style of Sociological Bulletin .(Format of referencing style will be provided through attachment).

3.Acceptance or otherwise of the papers will be duly intimated to the paper presenters by the 7th of March,2016 through email.

4.Outstation participants can avail TA for railway fare ( AC III ) to and fro for attending the seminar. Those travelling by road can avail TA as per Govt. rules.

5.Accomodation for outstation participants can be arranged at the University guest house located within the campus .

6.How to get to North Eastern Hill University: The nearest airport/railway station is at Guwahati which is located about 120 kms from Shillong.From Guwahati one can avail a tourist taxi or bus to reach Shillong and on instruction to the Taxi driver, one can be dropped till the University campus which is located at Mawlai.

7. Address for communication : All communications related to sending of abstracts, full papers or any other information should be made to the Convener or the Co-odinator at the following email address and contact no.

Convener : Dr. Rekha M Shangpliang

Department of Sociology, North Eastern Hill University,

Mawlai, Shillong, Pin Code: 793022, Meghalaya Contact Number: 09856030387

Email : OR

Co-ordinator : Prof. D.V Kumar Co-ordinator

Department of Sociology,North eastern Hill University Mawlai,Shillong,Pin Code : 793022,Meghalaya Contact Number : 9436160298


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