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Title: Identity Negotiations Amidst Conflict : A Case Study In Central India
Authors: Mukherjee, Swati
Keywords: School of Social Sciences
Ritambhara Hebbar
Government Agencies -People Protesting Dispossession - Conflict Situation
Dispossession of Land - Dam Construction - Chhindwara - India
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: Protests in opposition to development projects involving acquisition of agricultural lands have become a part of everyday reality in India. The present research was taken up with the aim of exploring the subtler processes of negotiation in a conflict situation, where the two major actors involved are the government agencies responsible for acquiring land, and the people protesting dispossession. The research is based upon the insights drawn from ethnographic explorations of a simmering conflict over dispossession of land due to a dam construction in a non-descript district in Central India, namely Chhindwara. The geographic locale of Chhindwara provides the context for constructing a discursive field allowing for explorations of the multiple intersecting discourses that define a development related conflict. Chhindwara also provides a context for reflecting upon the larger socio-political contexts and neo-liberal ethos within which such conflicts are increasingly becoming commonplace. The present research building upon the constructionist-interpretive paradigm accepts co-constructed nature of social reality and thus adopts a methodological approach that affirms research process as a participatory exercise between the researcher and the researched. The core research question is to understand conflict as a co-constructed social reality and to highlight the reciprocal impact made by the dynamics of such constructions on identities of the parties involved, i. e. the government agencies and the community. Based on interpretive epistemological framework, the research explores the subjective meanings and experiences of various actors, and brings out the complexities involved in explaining a conflict. Aiming to delve into the questions of power, dominance and negotiated nature of identity constructions the research emphasises the constructed nature of all social phenomena and utilises a critical ethnographic approach. In order to situate the work the geo-political and socio-historical circumstances of the community are analysed using archival data and secondary analysis. This includes a critical analysis of issues of longstanding conflict as depicted through the local print and electronic media and local protest literature. This is followed by ethnographic field work with the community as well as with the government agencies at the village, block and district level.Through constructing a rich and interweaving narrative of the ongoing conflict and negotiation, the research reveals that it is not only outcomes that are negotiated, but the identities of the actors involved are constantly shaped and reshaped through the continual processes of moulding one’s behaviour in response to the expectancies of the other and aiding the creation of ‘serviceable other’. The work brings out the predicament faced by these people being displaced, at the same time emphasizes that it is not a simple dichotomy of the ruler versus the ruled, or state versus society, rather it is a dynamic interplay of collective identifications and politicized identities that structures the negotiations and determines the outcome. Also, the field work reveals that the entire situation is placed within a new interpretive framework by a nascent social movement in the area that evokes the neo-liberal context of development. Power and knowledge asymmetry and unquestioned hegemony of the authorities over restrictive legal provisions tilts the balance in favour of the government, and fuels the construal of the state as inimical to the welfare of the people. The collective identities thus, become salient as group consciousness emerges in opposition to dominance by the authorities, and tends to subsume and override other group identities of caste or tribe. As the collective identity consolidates and is politicized and as the alternative framework created by the social movement leaders takes shape and gains acceptance among the protestors, their propensity for confrontation appears to increase. However, as the alternative framework aims at empowering the collective identity of protestors as activists fighting for their rights, the confrontations are instrumental in pushing the government authorities towards negotiations, providing at-least a minimal hearing to the voice of the protestors. It can also be discerned that a conflict situation takes months or even years to emerge, consolidate and achieve problematic proportions, and that the interplay of varied factors across time keeps changing providing opportune moments and spaces for active negotiations and subtle interventions for resolving the conflict.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D.

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01_Title page.pdf95.24 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
02_Declaration.pdf175.07 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
03_Certificate.pdf174.93 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
04_Acknowledgement.pdf190.94 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
05_COntents.pdf231.76 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
06_List of Figures.pdf82.76 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
07_Abstract.pdf190.65 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
08_Thesis Synopsis.pdf218.25 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
09_Introduction(Chapter 1).pdf613.5 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
10_Methodology.pdf552.65 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
11_Chapter 3.pdf1.13 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
12_Chapter 4.pdf938.86 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
13_Chapter 5.pdf503.25 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
14_Conculsion.pdf354.68 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
15_Appendix a.pdf534.46 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
16_ References.pdf403.6 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

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