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Resisting Development, Theorising Resistance

Dispossession and Resistance in India: The River and the Rage by Alf Gunvald Nilsen (London and New ork: Routledge) 2010; pp 242, price not mentioned.

Protests and social movements in opposition to developmental pro­jects, particularly those involving acquisition or transfer of agricultural/forestland, have become part of everyday politics and social reality in India. They have led to debates regarding the kind of development practices followed by the Indian state, the influence of neoliberalism on policymaking and discussions about issues of justice, efficiency and the role of the state in acquiring land (and other resources) for industrial purposes. There has been more focus on the causes and raison d’être of such protests, rather than a study of the “actors and authors” of these protests.1 The book under review, Alf Gunvald Nilsen’s Dispossession and Resistance in India: The River and the Rage, bridges this significant gap by studying one of the most well-known anti-displacement struggles of the Global South, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Although there is no dearth of scholarly or activist literature on the politics and political economy of dam-building on the Narmada River in central India, this book is an in-depth study of the anti-dam movement itself, the movement process, and how it came to be constituted through a long and complex procedure of interactions and negotiations between different groups, interests and demands.

Marxism and Social Movements

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