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Engaging Conservation: Village-Forest Relations around Panna Tiger Reserve in Central India

Runacres, Adam Aaron John; (2020) Engaging Conservation: Village-Forest Relations around Panna Tiger Reserve in Central India. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationships between the Forest Department and local villagers around Panna Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh, Central India, where a successful reintroduction project has rebuilt the local tiger population following its extinction in 2009. Through an anthropological analysis of ‘village-forest relations’ the thesis asks what might be gained by focusing on ‘engagement’ alongside and beyond predominant narratives of exclusion and conflict between foresters and villagers in the literature on Indian conservation. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork spent living around the reserve, it explores the different ways in which the Forest Department and local people ‘engage’ with one another in public outreach, the enforcement of forest regulations, local employment and village relocation. I argue that village-forest relations, as a form of environmental politics, articulates the antagonistic vulnerabilities of ‘village’ and jungle and the state’s prioritisation of the latter. In each form of ‘engagement’, discourses of vulnerable, threatening villagers and vulnerable, threatened jungles legitimise state intervention to reify, separate and control both. At the same time, villagers assert and express their own vulnerability in livelihood, labour and citizenship to work around, negotiate and draw benefits from ‘village-forest relations’ and from relationships with other stakeholders in the landscape. I draw on a range of disciplines, including anthropology, environmental history, geography and political ecology, to interrogate and situate key concepts like vulnerability and engagement, speaking to broader discussions about politics, livelihoods, labour, development, bureaucracy and government in Indian conservation contexts. The thesis demonstrates the potential contribution of anthropologies of Indian politics and government to discussions about the impact of conservation on local populations. Finally, the thesis argues for approaches to conservation intervention that make use of the interdependent and locally situated character of village-forest relations towards more equitable outcomes for local people.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Engaging Conservation: Village-Forest Relations around Panna Tiger Reserve in Central India
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107021
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