Political Ecology of Survival: Life and Labour in the River Lands of East and North-East India
Madhurilata Basu, Rajat Roy and Ranabir Samaddar (Eds.)
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

The world over, resource extraction and an extractive mode of economy have impacted on various population groups, and consequent conflicts over natural resources have damaged earlier modes of resource sharing. The river lands are one such resourceful space where conflicts relating to the development discourse are played out. These once economically-viable lands have become sites of unplanned growth, rampant commercialisation, administrative apathy and the politics of resource extraction.

Drawing on intensive field studies and research, Political Ecology of Survival studies how people living along the river banks, and ‘with the rivers’, of Bihar, deltaic Bengal and the North-East negotiate nature on the one hand, and the economy, politics and administration on the other. It presents a close look at a landscape that is the battleground of environment, economy, and politics, and offers a fresh look at how best to preserve river systems so as to continue with the life and livelihood of humankind.

The communities studied here, heavily dependent on natural resources and hailing from the lowest rungs of society, are forced to negotiate environmental and developmental challenges and related displacements and migration. The essays explore, among others, the problem of floods and erosion in the Brahmaputra valley, resource crises, resource sharing, large scale displacements of population groups in deltaic Bengal and the pressing problem of migration around Barak river in the North-East.

This unique collection will interest students and scholars of migration studies, environmental studies, political science and anthropology. It will also be invaluable for development activists, journalists, policymakers and NGOs working in the field.

Madhurilata Basu is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Kolkata.

Rajat Roy is a senior journalist.

Ranabir Samaddar is the Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group.

List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Publisher’s Acknowledgements

Introduction by Madhurilata Basu, Rajat Roy and Ranabir Samaddar

  1. Floods and Migration along the Kosi River by Mithilesh Kumar
  2. Ecology and Livelihood in the Sundarbans by Sutirtha Bedajna
  3. Death of a River and Other Accounts from Nadia by Milan Datta and Madhurilata Basu
  4. Rivers, River Bank Erosion and Survival in Murshidabad by Madhurilata Basu
  5. The Non-existent Population in the Chars of Malda by Milan Datta
  6. Watery Zones of Refuge: State Practices, Popular: Politics and Land in the Chars of Assam by Gulshan Parveen
  7. A Valley of Death: The Golden River Subansiri by K. K. Chatradhara
  8. A People’s History of the Barak River by Sajal Nag
  9. Water Laws, Treaties and Conventions by Shuvro Prosun Sarker


Notes on Contributors

Riverine Ecology of Eastern and North-Eastern India | Ecology, Economy and Society- The INSEE Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, Jan 2020.
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