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Download Dancing with the River: People and Life on the Chars of by Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt PDF

By Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

With this e-book Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Gopa Samanta provide an intimate glimpse into the microcosmic global of “hybrid environments.” concentrating on chars—the part-land, part-water, low-lying sandy lots that exist in the riverbeds within the floodplains of reduce Bengal—the authors convey how, either as real-life examples and as metaphors, chars straddle the traditional different types of land and water, and the way those who live to tell the tale them range among legitimacy and illegitimacy. the end result, a learn of human habitation within the nebulous house among land and water, charts a brand new state of mind approximately land, humans, and people's methods of life.

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Extra resources for Dancing with the River: People and Life on the Chars of South Asia

Example text

In their study, they have challenged existing environmental histories and ecological explanations. Most of these explanations were developed by “outside observers” from colonial to present times—from the late 1800s till the late 1900s. One explanation was that the patches were relics of an original and formerly much more extensive, dense, and humid forest cover. This “derived savannah” argument was incompatible with a second view that suggested that the stability of the forest-savannah mosaic was principally reflecting locally favorable edaphic (variations in soil, but also drainage and water table) conditions.

The dominant narrative was adopted by positivist Bengal, as postcolonial history of land and water management shows. The Damodar, walled-in and bound by embankments, was further controlled by the construction of dams and barrages upstream. In the process, the fluid worlds of chars lying within the riverbeds were turned invisible. This historical legacy makes the chars unique. Neither marsh, fen, peat land, nor water, they are remarkably different from other wetlands. The closest equivalents to char environments are the delta mouths where mangrove forests grow; the haor basins, which are saucer-shaped, interfluvial areas of Sylhet, Bangladesh, that are under water for a part of the year (Duyne-Barenstein 2008); and Everglades National Park in Florida (Grunwald 2007).

This is a growing field, but again, the field itself is characterized by a number of (sub)partitions (as noted by Rahman and van Schendel 2003)—not only of rival nationalisms and differences in stories of human experiences, but also of disciplinary divides and divisions within the academic communities. Willem van Schendel’s (2002) “Stateless in South Asia” has been an influential reading, where he shows that the very idea of an uninterrupted, homogeneous, contiguous, and bounded homeland is a fiction in South Asia.

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