Precarity and Possibility at the Margins: Hazards, Infrastructure, and Indigenous Politics in Sikkim, India, by Mabel Denzin Gergan
Gergan, Mabel Denzin. 2016. Precarity and Possibility at the Margins: Hazards, Infrastructure, and Indigenous Politics in Sikkim, India. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
This research examines the politics of anti-dam activism after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Sikkim, India. A climate change hotspot, the Indian Himalayan region is witnessing a surge in infrastructural development alongside an increase in earthquakes, landslides, and other natural hazard events. People have responded through ritual means, with incidents of shamanic possession by angered mountain deities. Together with more formal protests, local people have raised their objections to hydropower projects. This thesis uses a materialist, postcolonial theoretical approach to examine weak state responses to ecological pre-carity, and the resulting political solidarity of disparate groups who demand policies and projects sensitive to the region’s cultural and geo-physical particularities. I also foreground the experiences of indigenous youth to demonstrate how environmental vulnerability has a direct bearing on young people’s lives, labor, and politics. Young people are at the center of this research as it interrogates how these myriad transformations are shaping their political subjectivities, which are ultimately tied to the political, cultural, and ecological future of this region. Employing qualitative and participatory research methodologies I present a fine-grained analysis of the geo-physical cultural, and political processes that interrupt the centralization of state authority and environmental governance in the Himalayan region.