208 pages, 2 maps, 3 tables
Colonialism, Development, and the Environment focuses on the colonial encounter between Britain and India in the field of economic development, including scientific/technological changes, and the environmental impact of this encounter on India. Through the institutions of the colonial state, Das argues, the metropole (Britain) initiated economic development strategies in the colony (India) in order to efficiently extract resources from it. While colonial encounters have been seen by scholars more or less in economic and political terms, what is largely missing is the fact that the metropole's economic development strategies had definite ecological consequences for the colony. Colonialism, Development, and the Environment aims to fill that gap with an examination of how the railways led to deforestation in colonial India. The deforestation, in turn, put at risk the entire project of railway expansion. This led to state implementation of forest conservation. Conservation, however, was also an economic-developmental project whose main aim was to maintain timber supplies for the railways rather than care for ecological concerns. Thus the history of colonialism has both economic (and political) as well as ecological dimensions.
List of Tables
1. Railways and Development in Colonial India
2. Railways' Sleeper Demand and Deforestation
3. The Forests and Railway Fuel Supply
4. Hugh Cleghorn and Forest Conservation in India
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Dr. Pallavi Das is an Associate Professor of History at Lakehead University, Canada. Her research interests include: global environmental history, environment and development in colonial and post-colonial India, and people's history of climate change. She has published articles in Environment and History and Modern Asian Studies and other journals.