Investibility of Land: The Uneven Territorialization of Land in West Bengal, India

Authors: Sayoni Bose*, Governors State University
Topics: Development, Political Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: Investibility of land, Territorialization Process, Land, Uneven Territorialization, West Bengal
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The West Bengal state, in eastern India, has made contradictory interventions around land for the purpose of development. The state had two moments of intervention in land: Land reforms of 1977 that promoted small farming, and land acquisition post-2005 that promoted industrialization. The state’s attempt to value land as a capitalist commodity post-2005 is irreconcilable with the valuation of land it had encouraged during reforms. It is at the heart of these contradictory development policies lie the problem for the state to create governable spaces and subjects of rule around acquisition post-2005. This was exemplified, through the state’s imperious attempt to territorialize land in Nandigram to set up a chemical hub. This attempt was met with enormous resistance from peasants, who engaged in counter-territorialization efforts, to keep the state out of Nandigram. Having learned the lesson from the Nandigram, land acquisition efforts at another site Salboni were done differently by the state and that led to the success of land acquisition there. Drawing upon Tania Murray Li’s assertion that land’s investibility is a process, in the context of West Bengal, I argue that it is a territorialization process where how things come together matters. This territorialization process leads to an uneven inscription of power relations on the landscape with uneven formation of state spaces and subjects of rule. This produces an uneven territorialization and subject production. This paper examines these spatio-temporal “entanglements of power”, inquiring how power works around land thereby producing the developmental aporia of simultaneously rendering land (un)investible.

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