Books : Environmental History in South Asia

Guha Ramachandra, The  unquiet woods (Twentieth Anniversary Edition): Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, New Delhi : Orient Blackswan, 2010

« Popular initiatives to halt deforestation in the Himalaya, such as the Chipko movement, are globally renowned. It is less well known that these movements have a history stretching back more than a hundred years. A proper understanding of this long duration within the forests of submontane North India required the marriage of two scholarly traditions: the sociology of peasant protest and the ecologically oriented study of history.
Twenty years ago there appeared on this subject an unknown author’s first book: The Unquiet Woods (1989) by Ramachandra Guha. Fairly quickly, the book came to be recognized as not just another study of dissenting peasants but as something of a classic which had willy nilly opened up a whole new field— environmental history in South Asia. While the monograph has as a consequence been continuously in print within India and in the West since then, its author has become a biographer and historian of international stature. In celebration of its twentieth year in print, The Unquiet Woods is now reissued with additional material: a new reflective preface by the author on the genesis and limitations of the book which set him off on the path of writerly success, as well as three freshly commissioned critical essays by major academic specialists. Taken together, this additional material situates the monograph and its influence within environmental history in India, Europe and Latin America, and the USA. This is a book for anyone interested in the history of India’s environment, forests and their dwellers, the varieties of colonial rule, and the specificities of rural rebellion. And it is a book for anyone interested in the writings of Ramachandra Guha. »

 

Laine Nicolas & Subha T.B. (eds), Nature, Environment and Society: Conservation, Governance and Transformation in India, New Delhi : Orient Blackswan, 2012

« The future of humanity lies uncertain as nature falls prey to the loot and plunder initiated in the name of development, growth and progress today. As the vast riches of the earth continue to be endangered, a global consciousness regarding the importance of natural resources, biodiversity, etc. is on the rise. Given such a scenario, what is required is further understanding of man’s interaction with the environment. This contributory volume examines the interrelationship between nature and society in South Asia. It focuses on four points: perception of natural resources during colonial rule, conservation of nature, role of governments in administering environment, and transformation of nature as a result of development or industrial projects. The book divided into three broad themes, analyses the major decisions taken in India with regard to environment after Independence and their consequences; the relationship between communities which consider natural environment as an essential part of their identity, and as a key factor for social, political and economical issues; and the urban explosion and/or the construction of infrastructure such as dams or roads that have impacted the relationship between different social groups and their territory. It also examines the set-up (policy and stakes), process and consequences (often the displacement of populations) of such projects in three different states of India. Offering a wide variety of case studies representing a large panel of approaches and methodologies from Sociology, Economics, History, Anthropology, and Development Studies, this volume will be an useful read for students and scholars of environmental studies, and NGOs working towards conserving nature. »

 

See Also :

Gadgil Madhav & Guha Ramachandra, This Fissured Land : An Ecological History of India, New Delhi : Oxford Unersity Press, 1992

Grove Richard, Damodaran Vinita & Sangwan Satpal, Nature and the Orient : The Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia, New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2000

 


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