I am a PhD researcher with the Political Ecology research group at the International Institute of Social Studies. My research brings together theoretical perspectives from critical agrarian studies, materialist political ecology and social movement studies. It attempts to contribute to a better understanding of how diverse political economic factors operating at (and across) different scales shape the possibilities and political character of localized resistance to land dispossession. My research seeks to move beyond academic debates on anti-dispossession movements, emphasizing meaningful allyship with communities engaged in highly unequal political struggles. I also support the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) secretariat.
Converging claims for agrarian and environmental justice: Insights from India’s coal mining zones
Social movements resisting large scale mining projects have generally been understood as contesting contemporary extractivism and/or advancing claims for environmental justice. Through an examination of the crucial ‘agrarian’ dimensions of anti-mining struggles, this paper seeks to elaborate how they are intrinsically linked to underlying processes of agrarian change in mining-affected areas. The paper relies on long-term primary research in villages affected by a large open cast coal mine in the Raigarh region of Central-Eastern India. It analyses changing patterns of land use, employment and social reproduction of affected households due to loss of agricultural land and access to forests and commons, and the mine operator’s attempts to manage its effects on the local environment and livelihoods. Importantly, such mining-related impacts unfold in a context of significant rural transformation in a relatively ‘new’ region of agrarian capitalism in India. The paper argues that these intersecting processes of agrarian change – characterized by localized, land dispossession-linked effects as well as broader trajectories of rural transformation – have important implications for how households have responded to the mining project. Local movements resisting mining have also combined seemingly contradictory claims for agrarian and environmental justice in productive and innovative ways, defying attempts to give them a specifically ‘agrarian’ or ‘environmental’ character. A better understanding of such commonalities, and also significant tensions, can provide insights for efforts to scale up anti-mining struggles and build broader political alliances between movements seeking agrarian and environmental justice.
Keywords: social movements, resistance, agrarian change, environmental justice, mining
Affiliation: International Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands