Uncertainty and environmental change: Kutch and Sundarbans as environmental histories of climate change

Damodaran, Vinita, D’Souza, Rohan and Dey, Subir (2021) Uncertainty and environmental change: Kutch and Sundarbans as environmental histories of climate change. In: Mehta, Lyla, Adam, Hans Nicolai and Srivastava, Shilpi (eds.) The politics of climate change and uncertainity in India. Routledge, London, pp. 27-82. ISBN 9781032190792

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This chapter uses the notion of uncertainty as a point of enquiry to explore ways of rethinking environmental histories of South Asia. It documents and traces how weather and long-term climate trends were comprehended by state actors and a range of groups and communities in British India, as they shaped responses and interventions within dynamic environments. This chapter focuses on two case studies: the princely province of Kutch in British India and the Sundarbans, a dynamic deltaic environment that sprawls across the coastal edges of the erstwhile colonial province of Bengal. The Kutch and the Sundarbans, we suggest, were considered by the colonial authorities to be marginal environments that were defined by extreme events and climatic uncertainties. In contrast to this colonial understanding, the inhabitants in these highly dynamic environments possessed a range of adaptation strategies relating to mobility, the distribution of risks and diverse livelihood opportunities. In particular, we focus on how the urgency of tackling climatic uncertainty proved crucial in the framing of both official and popular responses to the recurring challenges of famine in Kutch and floods and cyclones in the Sundarbans.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Climate change, Uncertainty, Kutch, Sundarbans
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for World Environmental History
Depositing User: Vinita Damodaran
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 10:02
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2022 10:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/103946

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