The works presented in this collection take environmental scholarship in South Asia into novel territory by exploring how questions of national identity become entangled with environmental concerns in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and India. The essays provide insight into the motivations of colonial and national governments in controlling or managing nature, and bring into fresh perspective the different kinds of regional political conflicts that invoke nationalist sentiment through claims on nature. In doing all this, Ecological Nationalisms also offers new ways to think about nationalism and, more specifically, nationalism in South Asia from the vantage point of interdisciplinary environmental studies.
The contributors to this innovative volume show that manifestations of nationalism have long and complex histories in South Asia. Terrestrial entities, imagined in terms of dense ecological networks of relationships, have often been the space or reference point for national aspirations, as shared memories of Mother Nature or appropriated economic, political, and religious geographies. In recent times, different groups in South Asia have claimed and appropriated ancient landscapes and territories for the purpose of locating and justifying a specific and utopian version of nation by linking its origin to their nature-mediated attachments to these landscapes. The topics covered include forests, agriculture, marine fisheries, parks, sacred landscapes, property rights, trade, and economic development.
"Ecological Nationalisms is an unusually coherent anthology, focused on the complex intersections among identity, ethnicity, political economy, and ecology in South Asia [...] An important resource for a broad interdisciplinary audience in the social sciences."
– Ann Grodzins Gold, Syracuse University
"The editors of this volume have begun a valuable process of understanding which must now be pursued."
– Journal of Contemporary Asia
"The cases in Ecological Nationalisms – much too rich to summarize here – all take different positions on the relative importance of the ideas, interests, and identities activated or deployed in the politics of nature [...] Beautifully produced, rich in content, and important; it is genuinely South Asian in scope and both international and interdisciplinary in execution."
– Journal of Asian Studies
"Ecological Nationalisms, an edited volume of essays [...] is an ambitious and successful addition to the steadily growing literature on South Asian environmental history [...] This work asks many good questions and should inspire subsequent research."
– Environmental History
"[Ecological Nationalisms] opens the door to a remarkably wide body of research and enquiry. Most of the studies are not only very detailed but soundly based in an historical and conceptual background. The result is not easy reading but certainly provides an excellent base for understanding the interactive patterns at work in each of the areas studied [...] it would be very valuable indeed to post-graduate students focusing on related problems and to senior practitioners."
– Electronic Green Journal
"Informative and thought-provoking [...] Ecological Nationalisms is a must-read for serious scholars of South Asia studies."
– American Anthropologist
Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Contributors
1. Introduction: Ecological Nationalisms: Claiming Nature for Making History / K. Sivaramakrishnan and Gunnel Cederlof
I. Regional Natures, Nations, and Empire
2. Environmental History, the Spice Trade, and the State in South India / Kathleen D. Morrison
3. The Toda Tiger: Debates on Custom, Utility, and Rights in Nature, South India 1820-1843 / Gunnel Cederlof
4. Contested Forests in North-West Pakistan: The Bureaucracy between the "Ecological," the "National," and the Realities of a Nation's Frontier / Urs Geiser
II. Competing Nationalisms
5. Indigenous Forests: Rights, Discourses, and Resistance in Chotanagpur, 1860-2002 / Vinita Damodaran
6. Nature and Politics: The Case of Uttarakhand, North India / Antje Linkenbach
7. Indigenous Natures: Forest and Community Dynamics in Meghalaya, North-East India / Bengt G. Karlsson
8. Sacred Forests of Kodagu: Ecological Value and Social Role / Claude A. Garcia and J.-P. Pascal
III. Commodified Nature and National Visions
9. Knowledge Against the State: Local Perceptions of Government Interventions in the Fishery (Kerala, India) / Gotz Hoeppe
10. Shifting Cultivation, Images, and Development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh / Wolfgang Mey
11. Forest Managementin a Pukhtun Community: The Construction of Identities / Sarah Southwold-Llewellyn
12. "There Is No Life Without Wildlife": National Parks and National Identity in Bardia National Park, Western Nepal / Nina Bhatt
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Gunnel Cederlof is associate professor of history, Uppsala University, Sweden. K. Sivaramakrishnan is professor of anthropology and international studies and director of the South Asia Center, Jackson School of International Studies, at the University of Washington.
The other contributors are Nina Bhatt, Vinita Damodaran, Claude A. Garcia, Urs Geiser, Goetz Hoeppe, Bengt G. Karlsson, Antje Linkenbach, Wolfgang Mey, Kathleen D. Morrison, J. P. Pascal, and Sarah Southwold-Llewellyn.