Seminar: "Making nature legible: The social and political consequences of economic valuation of tiger reserves"

Seminar: "Making nature legible: The social and political consequences of economic valuation of tiger reserves" by Professor Ajit Menon.


        There have been a few recent attempts to estimate the economic value of ecosystem services from tiger reserves. Doing so, it is argued will not only provide a justification for tiger reserves but also enhance human well-being. We use a political ecology approach to argue that economic valuation is never a benign tool, but is very much situated in wider institutional contexts that favour certain actors over others. In India, protected areas are being valued even as people living within them are being evicted and their use of the forest restricted. We draw from fieldwork in the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Hills of Karnataka and conversations with Soliga adivasis. The questions we ask are how is nature made legible and who benefits from such legibility. We suggest that economic valuation can hide complex human-nature relationships and undermine different ways of knowing and ‘valuing’ landscapes.

Short Bio:

       Ajit Menon is Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. His research has largely been in the area of political economy of natural resource conflict/political ecology in the wider context of 'development'. He is also interested in Environmental discourses and environment policy, shaped by particular material practices and priorities. His research s primarily aimed at understanding how and when the environment becomes important and the contestations both material and ontological that underlie conflicts over the environment in general and the commons in particular. Forested landscapes in south India have provided the site for most of his research but he is increasingly interested in the political ecology of fisheries as well. The practice of interdisciplinarity is central to the study of the environment, hence his interest in collaborative research across disciplines and the epistemological challenges of such research. He is the co-author of Democratizing Forest Governance in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (2014), and Co-editor of Community-based Natural Resource Management: Issues and Cases from South Asia, Sage, New Delhi (2007, apart from numerous articles in journals and edited volumes. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge and the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'homme, Paris.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, 10 October 2018 - 4:00pm
Seminar Hall, Department of HSS
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai