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Economism, ecologism and the grassroots encounter: conserving communities in north-west India

Jobanputra, D.; (2011) Economism, ecologism and the grassroots encounter: conserving communities in north-west India. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis surveys the interface between a small rural development and conservation nongovernmental organisation (NGO) in the north Indian state of Rajasthan and two of the villages in which it operates. It looks at the genealogy of ideas that have guided this liaison and at their variegated interpretation and implementation by multiply sited actors. This ultimately contingent process of mediation, in which mainstream discourses of development and conservation are diffracted through manifold media, has fostered a grassroots encounter predicated on the tacit pursuit of second-order conservation (the preservation of a socioecological system in toto). Using qualitative data derived from 14 months’ fieldwork in Alwar district, this study seeks to assess the day-to-day workings and effects of this emergent discourse in its specific historical, political and psycho-social structural context(s). This work is divided into three main parts. Part one introduces the setting of this study, paying heed, in particular, to extant projects of conservation and development in Alwar and their historical antecedents. The second section presents an ethnography of the concept of rational self-interest, which looks at two core instantiations of development economism: the bureaucratic institutions designed to bring about collective action in resource management and conservation; and the agency ascribed to actors in participatory modes of development. Then, in the final part of this thesis, attention turns to the NGO’s mediation of conservation and development discourses, the forms of grassroots action thus engendered and some consequent changes in subjectivities. The current study stimulates debate on the lived experience of development and conservation projects, commonly conceived by critics as monolithic and hegemonic enterprises. By attending to the dynamic manifestations of these endeavours at a microsociological level, it serves to undermine such essentialist portrayals in favour of a relational approach that allows for the complex, contingent and creative corollaries of the grassroots encounter.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Economism, ecologism and the grassroots encounter: conserving communities in north-west India
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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