Focusing on land dispossession in contemporary South Asia, this panel examines discourses of 'development' and changing power relations in the struggle over land. We particularly invite speakers who investigate these issues based on original ethnographic research.
Despite the rampant industrialisation and urbanisation that has transformed much of South Asia, land - and the access that different groups have to it - remains a central arbiter of power, wealth and well-being over much of the subcontinent. Yet whilst during the 20th Century the predominant use of land was agricultural more recently it is valued by those who appropriate it, usually either corporate or private actors or state institutions, as a commodity, to be used for property development, industrial sites or, as prices spiral, a financial investment. Often the most marginal groups in society, those who lose it face the loss of their livelihoods. Meanwhile those who appropriate it take recourse in discourses of 'development', the market, or national security to stake their claims. Struggles are thus ideological as well as material; what is at stake is not only access to resources but also the nature of economic development, the role of the state, the place of subaltern peoples in the 'modern' nation and deepening social inequalities.
In this panel, we will interrogate these processes through papers which address the following urgent questions:
- What are the processes whereby land dispossession takes place in contemporary South Asia in the name of 'development', national interests or security?
- What role does the state, the military, development cooperation and private corporations play and how are these interests interrelated?
- How do marginal groups and activists contest and struggle against these processes?
- How are discourses of 'development', 'belonging', indigeneity and security played out in these struggles?