The politics of Forest and Indigenity in Jharkhand

Authors: Pallavi Raonka*, Virginia Tech
Topics: Cultural Ecology, Indigenous Peoples, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Indigenity, Political Forest, Jharkhand, India
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Palladian, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Political ecology goes beyond an ecological understanding of forests, unpacking its socio-political dimensions. As such, the term “political forests” captures the complex discursive and institutional practices that form the ideological and material process of “making forests”. In the Indian context the terms adivasi, tribe, and indigenous, are often used interchangeably to describe both the communities as well as the relationship between the communities and the lands and resources over which they claim autonomy/ or they inhabit. These conceptual terms are used by the various state and non- state actors without adhering to their epistemological and ontological legacies in favor of a more pragmatic approach. Linking literature on the political ecology of forests with debates on indigeneity, the article analyses how leading political parties frame forest and forest dwellers in the campaigning prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, India. Exploring discourses of “jangal” and its linkages to state policies of resource extraction and industrialization, the article aims to deepen the understanding of the political lives of forests and the implications of discursive for policy making.

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