ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Identity and Rights in the Forested Landscapes of Gudalur, Tamil Nadu

Blurred Boundaries

This paper critically analyses the politics of claim-making, vis-à-vis, the Forest Rights Act by illustrating how three distinct political actors in Gudalur, Tamil Nadu, have used the FRA. In this analysis the law has not been taken as an immutable category, but rather as a political instrument that various groups use to assert their identities and political imaginaries. In doing so, these imaginaries invoke unique histories and reference multiple "genealogies of belonging." By highlighting the multiple uses and interpretations of the FRA in Gudalur, this study opens up space for a discussion around some larger concerns implicated within issues of forests, rights and conservation, particularly, the limits of seeing Adivasis as the only authentic traditional forest-dwellers by highlighting the blurred boundaries between various categories--Adivasi and non-Adivasi, forest and non-forest, legality and illegality. It is in these liminal spaces, where boundaries are blurred, this study offers an analysis informed by the analytic of governmentality to argue that local actors exercise agency in either taking on or resisting environmental subjectivities framed by the FRA.



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