Although economic factors are often considered as essential for augmenting ethnic movements, the analytic relationship between economic issues and ethnicity is far from being clear cut. In an attempt to address the problem of ethnicity in a non-Marxist theoretical plane, most of the studies on ethnic problems inadvertently indulge such logical inconsistencies. Such a critical reading led us to conceptualize ethnicity as a lived-in category – much like the concepts of class or caste – where both the material and cultural domain of routine life congregates. With the help of a case study of the Gorkhaland movement in the Darjeeling Hills (India) and the input of a particular field of material predisposition – namely, the issues related with land and agrarian social formation, this paper attempts to argue that ethnic movements are a dynamic podium wherein the encoded meanings of material and/or economic issues/grievances are decoded in cultural idioms.

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