This article analyses conflicts erupting during the settlement of rights in land and natural resources in the forests of the Nilgiri Hills in 1819 to 1843. It focuses specifically the ways in which the pastoralist Toda community acted in order to protect their authority over the land. The author argues that British colonial administration perceived and classified both landscape and people according to particularistic and utilitarian principles. Thereby, the legal settlement of land became particularistic and land rights were defined relative to the individual community. It is further argued that, in spite of highly unequal power relations and a dominant legal discourse of property, people in the Nilgiris possessed agency and had capacity to influence the proceedings through a variety of means. Laws regulating access to and use of land became, therefore, to a large extent, contextual and were shaped alongside the land conflicts.
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