Agrarian Environments

Resources, Representations, and Rule in India

Agrarian Environments

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 8 tables Published: October 2000

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > South Asia, Environmental Studies

Agrarian Environments questions the dichotomies that have structured earlier analyses of environmental processes in India and offers a new way of looking at the relationship between agrarian transformation and environmental change. The contributors claim that attempts to explain environmental conflicts in terms of the local versus the global, indigenous versus outsiders, women versus men, or the community versus the market or state obscure vital dynamics of mobilization and organization that critically influence thought and policy.
Editors Arun Agrawal and K. Sivaramakrishnan claim that rural social change in India cannot be understood without exploring how environmental changes articulate major aspects of agrarian transformations—technological, cultural, and political—in the last two centuries. In order to examine these issues, they have reached beyond the confines of single disciplinary allegiances or methodological loyalties to bring together anthropologists, historians, political scientists, geographers, and environmental scientists who are significantly informed by interdisciplinary research. Drawing on extensive field and archival research, the contributors demonstrate the powerful political implications of blurring the boundaries between dichotomous cultural representations, combine conceptual analyses with specific case studies, and look at why competing powers chose to emphasize particular representations of land use or social relations. By providing a more textured analysis of how categories emerge and change, this work offers the possibility of creating crucial alliances across populations that have historically been assumed to lack mutual goals.
Agrarian Environments will be valuable to those in political science, Asian studies, and environmental studies.

Contributors. Arun Agrawal, Mark Baker, Molly Chattopadhyaya, Vinay Gidwani, Sumit Guha, Shubhra Gururani, Cecile Jackson, David Ludden, Haripriya Rangan, Paul Robbins, Vasant Saberwal, James C. Scott, K. Sivaramakrishnan, Ajay Skaria, Jennifer Springer, Darren Zook


“[R]eflect[s] a broad range of historical circumstances and geographical locations. . . .The authors provide salient critiques and more subtle and nuanced interpretations of development and environmental issues.” — Tobias J. Lanz, Environment and History

"Here is a good collection of papers, which should be a delight to environmental historians and scholars interested in the dynamics between history, rural matters and the environment. . . . [R]ich and complex. . . . [An] interesting [and] useful volume. . . . [O]ne would hope to see more books of this nature. . . ." — Marlene Buchy, Development and Change

Agrarian Environments is a volume of historically and empirically informed essays that represents a new generation of scholarship that promises to reshape the fields of agrarian and environmental studies. By confronting some of the received wisdoms that have separated the study of agriculture from that of the environment, this book opens up a whole range of new and refreshing questions that will be of relevance to scholars and policymakers in all parts of the world.” — Akhil Gupta, author of Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India

“This volume brings a remarkable maturity of vision to the study of the environmental history and politics of India. Departing from the tired nature/culture dichotomy, it offers a fresh approach that situates the environment, agriculture, and politics within a single field. Our understanding of the politics of Indian environment and the academic field of environmental studies will never be the same after Agrarian Environments.” — Gyan Prakash, Princeton University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Arun Agrawal is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He is the author of Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People, also published by Duke University Press.

K. Sivaramakrishnan is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington and author of Modern Forests: Statemaking and Environmental Change in Colonial Eastern India.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / James C. Scott vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Agrarian Environments / Arun Agrawal and K. Sivaramakrishnan 1

State Economic Policies and Changing Regional Landscapes in the Uttarakhand Himalaya, 1818–1947 / Haripriya Rangan 23

Colonial Influences on Property, Community, and Land Use in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh / J. Mark Baker 47

Environmental Alarm and Institutionalized Conservation in Himachal Pradesh, 1865–1994 / Vasant K. Saberwal 68

State Power and Agricultural Transformation in Tamil Nadu / Jenny Springer 86

Famine in the Landscape: Imagining Hunger in South Asian History, 1860–1990 / Darren C. Zook 107

Economic Rents and Natural Resources: Common Conflicts in Premodern India / Sumit Guha 132

Identities and Livelihoods: Gender, Ethnicity, and Nature in a South Bihar Village / Cecile Jackson and Molly Chattopadhyay 147

Regimes of Control, Strategies of Access: Politics of Forest Use in the Uttarakhand Himalaya, India / Shubhra Gururani 170

Pastoralism and Community in Rajasthan: Interrogating Categories of Arid Lands Development / Paul Robbins 191

Labored Landscapes: Agro-ecological Change in Central Gujarat, India / Vinay Gidwani 216


Agrarian Histories and Grassroots Development in South Asia / David Ludden 251

Cathecting the Natural / Ajay Skaria 265

Bibliography 277

Contributors 303

Index 307
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc South Asia

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2574-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2555-0
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