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Accepted Paper:

Conservation in South Asia: Conflict and Environmental Justice in the Indian Sundarbans  
Dayabati Roy (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

Upon drawing the ethnographic fieldwork conducted during 2018-21, this paper examines through analysing the drivers, means and outcomes of changes within the field of conservation how the policies of forest conservation have been changing and thereby engendering conflicts at the margin of Indian Sundarbans.

Paper long abstract:

The forest conservation policies have a long trajectory in India. Ever since the colonial period, the government has been scripting policies to govern the activities within/regarding the forests. The question is why the conservation policies would fail to conserve the forests and why the marginal people would bear the brunt of the strict interpretation of the conservation policies. Upon drawing the ethnographic materials collected in the period of 2018-21 from the Indian Sundarbans, this paper argues that forest conservation policies could hardly succeed in achieving their avowed conservation goals because it would prioritize the development agenda at the expense of conservation and privilege the interests of the propertied sections at the expense of marginal people. While the economically marginal people who have always been trying to maintain their subsistence through sustainably harnessing the resources of the two adjacent ecotones get uprooted as consequences of pro-development and pro-propertied sections’ agenda, the propertied class people have prospered through exploiting the ecotones ruthlessly towards accumulation. These class and accumulation processes have made the Sundarbans forests vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation. The question is how we could resolve the conservation crisis. What kinds of radical changes are needed to pursue sustainable forests in Sundarbans? This research suggests that what we require to strive for resolving this conservation crisis is nothing but a change in policies that would effectively replace growth-induced development with sustainable one.

Panel P050b
Transformations in the anthropology of conservation II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -