Dispossession and Resistance in India
The River and the Rage
Routledge – 2010 – 242 pages
This book deals with the controversies on developmental aspects of large dams, with a particular focus on the Narmada Valley projects in India. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and research, the author draws on Marxist theory to craft a detailed analysis of how local demands for resettlement and rehabilitation were transformed into a radical anti-dam campaign linked to national and transnational movement networks.
The book explains the Narmada conflict and addresses how the building of the anti-dam campaign was animated by processes of collective learning, how activists extended the spatial scope of their struggle by building networks of solidarity with transnational advocacy groups, and how it is embedded in and shaped by a wider field of force of capitalist development at national and transnational scales. The analysis emphasizes how the Narmada dam project is related to national and global processes of capitalist development, and relates the Narmada Valley movement to contemporary popular struggles against dispossession in India and beyond.
Conclusions drawn from the resistance to the Narmada dams can be applied to social movements in other parts of the Global South, where people are struggling against dispossession in a context of neoliberal restructuring. As such, this book will have relevance for people with an interest in South Asian studies, Indian politics and Development Studies.
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"This book is an exemplary analysis of an important social movement against a major dam project in post-colonial India… the book is a theoretically and empirically rich study of one of the most significant movements against neoliberal globalisation, and will surely inform future studies of movements in the developing world." - Manali Desai, London School of Economics, UK Capital & Class, 2011
"The author has written a devastating critique of current economic planning in India. In many ways we need such an authoritative feeling analysis to validate what might otherwise seem the strident opposition of Arundhati Roy to Indian capitalism today. It provides a very disturbing insight into the cost of globalisation." - Antony Copley, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent; Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
"Nilsen reminds us that the possibility of radical social change ultimately lies in building alliances between different social movements, in developing a capacity for counter-hegemony and posing systemic challenges to the present socio-historical totality." - Budhaditya Das, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi; Economic and Political Weekly
1. The River and the Rage: Introducing the Narmada Valley Conflict 2. Losing Ground: Accumulation by Dispossession in the Narmada Valley 3. Everyday Tyranny and Rightful Resistance: The Emergence of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath 4. Discovering the Dam: Militant Particularist Struggles for Resettlement and Rehabilitation 5. Towards Opposition: The Formation of the Anti-Dam Campaign 6. Cycles of Struggle: The Trajectory of the Anti-Dam Campaign 1990-2000 7. Enablements and Constraints: The Making of the Maheshwar Anti-Dam Campaign 8. Development, Not Destruction: Alternative Development as a Social Movement Project 9. Whither the Rage? Learning from the Narmada Valley Movement Process
Alf Gunvald Nilsen is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Bergen, Norway. His research interests cover social movement theory and research, critical development research, and Marxist approaches to the political economy of capitalist development – all with special reference to India and South Asia.