Water and Development: Forging Green Communities for Watersheds
Arun de Souza
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

This book shows how watershed development projects intervene in people’s lives and the ways in which an entire community gets reconstructed around the implementation of a new resource. It challenges the popular view that rural communities are an unchanging entity, steeped in tradition and economically stagnant. The author deconstructs these preconceived notions through which rural India is perceived and establishes how a community, far from being static and autonomous, is fluid and changing.

In analysing the processes involved in bringing together a heterogeneous group of people for a common cause, the study raises pertinent questions—is the mere fact of ‘scarcity’ enough to motivate them to come together? Can scarcity enable them to put aside their differences and invent a new method to conserve and manage their available water? Explaining the dynamics engaged in it, the author focuses on:

  • The way narrating a myth helps build a community, creates a utopian space of united action and solidarity—one that transcends class-caste-factional divisions
  • The everyday political practices of the village and its relationship to the wider polity of the village and the state where factionalism is not just a divisive factor but also builds and sustains complex relationships
  • The image that a community portrays to outsiders who visit the village where all forms of contestations and plural interpretations are swept aside to present themselves as a distinct group with a sense of a ‘we’ feeling

The village community is, thus, forged in a relationship with the present and lives in continuity with its past. It is intricately linked to the larger processes (both global and local) beyond its boundaries—be it the global green movement, the changing aid policies, or the state’s present efforts to encourage NGOs to work with the government.

The author’s meticulous research based on field surveys, participant observation, interviews and archival work, will be useful to students and scholars of development studies, ecology and environment, environmental history and natural resources management. It will also be of interest to policymakers, activists, NGOs and development practitioners.

Arun de Souza is lecturer, Department of Sociology, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

List of Tables
In Gratitude

1. Watershed Development and Green Communities: An Introduction
2. Nostalgic Pasts and Modernist Visions
3. Drought and Development
4. Mythic Imaginations and Communitarian Projects
5. Electoral Factions and Everyday Networks
6. Community as a Development Spectacle
7. Community as an Ongoing Construction


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