"This is all waste": emptying, cleaning and clearing land for renewable energy dispossession in borderland India

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  • David Singh

Renewables are imagined in India around features of ‘greenness’ and ‘cleanness’ and are presented as the modern pathway towards sustainable development and unlimited growth. But this shining story entails problematic land politics and the related (un)making of space for capital accumulation: previous property regimes and land uses are erased while a new set of land technologies and territorial rules legitimates land dispossession and the private takeover of commons. Wind infrastructures are specifically targeting (common) lands categorized as ‘deserted’, ‘empty’ and ‘waste’, and subaltern groups (tribal, pastoral and Dalit communities) whose livelihood practices have been historically described as ‘unproductive’ and ‘backward’. These both violent and discursive logics of (neo)colonial and green energy land politics are mediated and fixed to the ground levels by powerful (land) brokers, contractors, wind companies’ land teams and political mediators who embark land on its tortuous, bureaucratic and yet material journey towards clearing, cleaning and holding value. This article offers perspectives from political geography and critical agrarian studies to understand the territorial process, the persistence of class-caste relations and the legacy of coloniality underlying the land politics of green energy development in borderland India.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary South Asia
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)402-419
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • dispossession, extraction, land politics, mediation, Renewables

ID: 314625724