The relationship between land and the state is co-productive. As the state makes the land, it is also shaped by this land-making in turn.
We invite you for a guest talk by Nikita Sud, Professor, Politics of Development, University of Oxford.
About the speaker: Nikita Sud’s research centres on states, space and nature in the Global South, especially Asia. Her most recent monograph is The Making of Land and the Making of India (Oxford University Press, 2021).
The book emerges from her research on the socially entangled life of land, conducted over a decade in west, east and south India. Papers from this research have been published in World Development, Journal of Peasant Studies and Development and Change, among other journals.
Abstract of the talk: The relationship between land and the state is co-productive. As the state makes the land, it is also shaped by this land-making in turn. In the recent history of the Global South, land-making as state-making implicates the colonial state that controlled land and made inhabitants subjects.
In a postcolonial avatar, the modernising state sought to transform land in its developmental vision in tandem with societal elites. The skewing of the development project was furthered under economic liberalisation, with global capital aggressively promoted in zoned development on once-sovereign land.
At the same time, land-making as state-making cannot be read only from the perspective of the formal, high state. Using an ethnographic lens, the second half of the paper highlights the aspirational and somewhat lower status inserting themselves in contemporary land-making projects in field sites in western India.
We see official and societal intermediaries messing with property documentation, indulging in forgery and fraud, illegally possessing land, and highlighting or creating disputes around its ownership and value.
In the process, those on the outside edges of informalised authority, as also land-making projects, broaden the domains of both. They assert their subjecthood in the continual making and re-making of the socially embedded state via multi-dimensional land.
Know more about The Making of Land and the Making of India (Oxford University Press, 2021) here.