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SEMINAR: Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series

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Today's date is Monday, August 03, 2020
Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series : Concrete Development: Distraction and Destruction in the eastern Himalaya Other events...
India’s frontier state of Sikkim is a ‘sensitive space’ (Dunn and Cons 2014) sharing borders with Bhutan, China and Nepal. As distinctions between urban and rural dissolve across the Himalaya, attention to concrete narrates the transformation of these landscapes and the assemblages that hold them together. In Sikkim, tourism is a key development strategy that is built around mountain landscapes, organic agriculture and concrete structures. Religious theme parks, Hindu temple complexes, gigantic statues of Lord Buddha and other religious figures are crucial components of this concrete landscape. The success of these attractions has led to public demands for more concrete. Concrete is now imbued with hopes of transforming villages and towns into popular and economically prosperous tourist destinations. On the other hand, large-scale hydropower projects which also promise economic development for the state and its citizens are being built across the river Teesta and its tributaries in Sikkim. Concrete, therefore has become the focal point of the state’s development initiatives; the tangible representation of hope and prosperity for citizens whilst simultaneously being used for resource extraction by private hydropower companies. Based on ethnographic research in Sikkim, the paper focuses firstly on the development narrative and visions of modernity which is based on the construction of concrete structures; concrete foregrounds the ways aspirations are materialised in the built environment of a ‘remote’, yet geopolitically significant territory. Secondly, the paper offers a critical reading of the ways landscape is imagined, reproduced and politicised through this development narrative of environmental destruction and cultural distractions ; and thirdly the paper discusses how concrete heralds the collusion of the state and private finance leading to the social and spatial transformation of Sikkim, producing a loyal border state out of a recently independent polity.

Dr Mona Chettri is UWA Australia-India Institute New Generation Network Scholar. She is the author of Constructing Democracy: Ethnicity and Democracy in the eastern Himalaya (Amsterdam University Press, 2017). Her current research focuses on resource frontiers, urbanisation, gender and development in the eastern Himalaya, India.
Speaker(s) Dr Mona Chettri
Contact Farida Fozdar <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 13 Sep 2019 14:30
End Fri, 13 Sep 2019 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Fri, 13 Sep 2019 09:22
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