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Environmentality: Politics, Institutions, and Forest Struggles in Kumaon Himalaya, 1893 to 1993 (Book Prospectus)

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Agrawal, Arun
Date: 1999
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4184
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): conservation
governance and politics
environmental policy
local participatory management
Abstract: "Environmental politics has been transformed in the past 20 years. This transformation presents a rare opportunity to rethink the relationship between environment and politics, governance and subjectivity. My book takes advantage of this opportunity by examining the 150-year history of a specific example of environment-related struggles in Kumaon, India. Kumaon in the western Indian Himalaya is a critical case to understand how the nature of environmental politics has changed. Starting from the 1920s, the processes of environmental governance and struggles in Kumaon prefigure more recent changes elsewhere in more than 50 countries in the world. My book examines the efforts of different regional governments in Kumaon to conserve forests, the allocation struggles that such efforts symbolized and prompted, and the relationship of these struggles to subject formation. My analysis shows that attending to transformations in perceptions about the environment is crucial to understanding both the politics of allocation, and the processes of subject formation. The politics of allocation and subject formation, two seemingly distinct and unrelated phenomena,are joined together in my account by a focus on rules and enforcement. Rules and enforcement are, of course, central themes for scholars of environment who are interested in property rights and collective action.I argue that they are equally crucial to understand relations of humans to forests,and that environmental scholars have not fully appreciated the transformations of subjectivity and attitudes to which decentralization of enforcement gives birth. It is in social participation or exclusion from processes of rule making,institutional subjection, and rule enforcement that new views of the environment are born and new practices around the environment consolidated."

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