Winds of change in a ‘Saffronised’ Indian Borderland: dispossession and power in rural Kutch

Singh, David Andre Karnail (2023) Winds of change in a ‘Saffronised’ Indian Borderland: dispossession and power in rural Kutch. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Renewables are imagined in India around features of ‘greenness’ and ‘cleanness’ and are presented as the key solutions towards sustainable development and unlimited growth. But this narrative entails a problematic land politics and the reconfiguration of territories for capital accumulation: following the 2001 earthquake, Kutch district has been framed as a major resource frontier and experienced several waves of land liberalisation and industrialisation programs. Being a borderland district, the proximity with Pakistan and the presence of Muslim pastoral populations on both sides of the border have also fostered important ‘saffron’ Hindu nationalist discourses since 1947. What do the new territories of ‘green’ energy extraction look like in this context of sensitive borderland?

This research focuses on the land politics of extracting wind energy as embedded within relations of caste and class, citizenship, and religious identities. Land is being imagined ‘empty’ and ‘waste’, shifting from one user to another via bureaucratic means, while it is materially aligned with companies’ interests. This process affects social differentiation and creates new trajectories of accumulation and domination for ground-level brokers and fixers who mediate consent and resistance. These actors merge the companies’ endless appetite for land with their own socio-economic and political gains affiliated with nationalist projects of territory revivalism. As the thesis argues, wind infrastructures align with broad ethno-religious conceptions of Indian citizenship and space as Hindu and their expansion over new border areas serves the enforcement of a racialised citizenship and security regime. Finally, the emergence of everyday resistance and political reactions to the arrival of wind power reveals continuity with traditional agrarian struggles, but also with caste politics and exclusive forms of mobilisation.

This research adopts perspectives from political ecology, human geography, and critical agrarian studies and is grounded in a 7-month ethnographic investigation in mainland and borderland Kutch.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2023 15:39
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023 15:39


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