ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Repopulating the Landscape

Space against Place in Narmada Valley

This paper recounts the struggle of the Tadvi and Vassawa ethnic groups of Rajpipla against the creation of the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, that forms part of the Sardar Sarovar Dam but which has received far less attention than the dam project itself. The indigenous populations within the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary who have traditionally had access to its resources now regard its construction as a means of curtailing their right of access to forest resources and for appropriating land previously used by them for cultivation. Their struggle in turn, has involved the reconstruction of their environmental and social history that is an attempt to assert the validity of the local sense of place over more abstract conceptions of space, imposed on them from above. Their oral reconstruction of history, kinship and identity is actually a response to the threat of dislocation, in which a concept of space without people has taken precedence over local interactions with, and interpretations of, the environment.

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