The NLS Public Lecture Series | Many Lives of Land
Room 201, New Academic Block, NLSIU
Friday, August 5, 2022, 5:00 pm
NLSIU invites you to our next public lecture titled “Many lives of land” on August 5, 2022 at 5 PM. The lecture will take place at Room 201 of the New Academic Block on campus.
Nikita Sud is Professor of the Politics of Development at the University of Oxford. She is Governing Body Fellow and Vicegerent (Deputy Head) of Wolfson College. She researches the neoliberal transformation of the state and governance in the Global South; and the social and political life of nature, especially land and water in the era of Climate Change. She is the author of the academic monographs The Making of Land and The Making of India (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and The State: A Biography of Gujarat (Oxford University Press, 2012). Besides publishing in journals across the social sciences, Nikita speaks and writes regularly for the media. Her work has appeared in The Conversation, Scroll.in, Wire.in, NDTV, Thomson Reuters Place, Mongabay, Al Jazeera, openDemocracy, East Asia Forum, BBC World Service, Radio 4, Radio France and Mediapart, among others.
For long, humans have conceived of land as inert. Modernization as the institutional control of nature sought to mould this land, as also water, air, minerals, flora, and fauna in the service of economic growth. Building on research from across the social sciences, Nikita Sud’s work rethinks land as the solid, dry surface of the earth. Instead, it presents land as multi-dimensional. Land is imbued with identity and history. It is simultaneously enlivened, territory, property, authority, and a point of contested access and exclusion. Materially and conceptually “unfixed” land is not “naturally” so. It is constantly made and re-made by institutions of the state, market, and politics. In her field sites in post-liberalization, globalizing India, land is sought to be ordered for capitalist development. In the process, a state attempting to order a layered topography is stretched into shadowy domains of informality and unsanctioned practices. A market in land may be advanced, but remains precariously embedded in sociality. Politics may challenge the land-making of the state and market. It may also effect compromises. Attempts at constructing a durable landed order thus reveal our own (dis)orders. In attempting to “make” the land, Sud shows that the land simultaneously “makes” us.