Communities, Networks and the State: Continuity and Change among the Kuhl Irrigation Systems of Western Himalaya


"The extreme set of ecological and social conditions within which the kuhls of Kangra Valley exist challenge the ability of theories of common property resource management to explain their persistence and change. In order to account for the differential patterns of change and persistence among the kuhl regimes of Kangra, three broad, over-arching questions must be addressed. These questions extend the domain of inquiry beyond that which is often considered in the study of systems of common property resource management. The first over-arching question asks what is the role of the state in supporting or not supporting community-based institutions for common property resource management. Answering this requires rethinking the relationship between state and local institutions, and indeed, our understanding of what constitutes the 'state' and 'local' and how they may mutually constitute and reinforce each other. A second over-arching question concerns the possible roles of exchange (material or symbolic or both) between different community-based resource management systems in enabling their persistence. Exploring this issue requires drawing back from a micro-focus on individual systems of common property resource management to a more landscape-scale perspective in order to first identify and then evaluate the possible effects of exchange between networked resource management systems. A third overarching question focuses on the importance of regionality in terms of how it informs the specific institutional forms, microlevel social relations, ritual aspects of, and trajectories of change within common property resource management systems. This question forces investigation of the role of culture, informal institutions, and region-specific understandings of community and identity. These over-arching questions incorporate multiple levels of analysis and integrate different analytical perspectives. When woven together, these levels and perspectives create a tapestry whose pattern should correspond to the transformations and rhythms of change observed within individual kuhl regimes."



Himalayas, irrigation, collective action, resource management, social networks, privatization, colonization, regimes