The social life of mangroves: Resource complexes and contestations on the industrial coastline of Kutch, India

The social life of mangroves: Resource complexes and contestations on the industrial coastline of Kutch, India

In  the  last  few  decades,  mangroves  have  attained  significant  environmental,  climatic  and  therefore economic importance. As environmental assets,   they   have   given rise   to   different   regimes   of conservation, valuation and marketisation in various parts of the world. These processes are associated with new relations of power, dispossession and contestation. This paper unpacks these relationships in the context of state and market led conservation programmes in Kutch (India), a district which has been at  the  forefront  of  accelerated  industrialisation  in  Gujarat. By  analysing  the  discourses  and  practices that have shaped the social life of mangroves in Kutch, we argue that the interaction of industrialisation processes with conservation measures has not only led to privatisation of mangrove lands but has also fundamentally  altered  the  livelihoods  as  well  as  well-being  and  identities  of mangrove dependent communities  such  as fishers  and  pastoralists. Largely  these  trends have  intensified the processes  of uneven capitalist  growth,  dispossession and  inequality,  but  have  also opened up some  opportunities and spaces for promoting transformational change.