Discourses around logging: Framing extraction of wood from West Singhbhum’s conflicted forests

@ATREE auditorium at 3.45 pm on 29th August 2016


The indigenous Ho people living in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district have long coped with ongoing conflicts in its forests. The historical and political economic backdrop features insurgent groups, commercial forestry without revenue sharing with local communities, political mobilisation in the form of a ‘jungle felling movement’, and small-scale logging and sale of wood to meet the everyday livelihood needs of forest-dwelling households. Despite the importance wood holds for both marginalised populations and the Forest Department, little remains known about the forces that determine informal logging at the local level. This ethnographic study of the discourses around logging in a single forest division of central eastern India closely examines the views and roles of various actors and institutions involved in both the governance of wood and politics of logging. In unpacking the negotiation and regulation of access to wood in both government-owned and village forests, this article seeks to go beyond tired accounts of state-community conflict, legal-illegal binaries, and the exploitation of marginalised groups. While acknowledging these aspects, it addresses how wood extraction is framed and justified locally, and demonstrates how wood access and logging in the forests of Jharkhand are engendered and maintained by a local moral economy shaped by neoliberal capitalism.


Siddharth Sareen is a postdoctoral fellow with the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, Erfurt, and the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi. His current research builds on a completed doctoral project on resource politics in Jharkhand at the University of Copenhagen and Padova University. He holds an Integrated MA in Development Studies from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and has earlier been based at the Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. He also works on energy governance. For more about his work, see https://ku-dk.academia.edu/sidsareen and http://micasmp.hypotheses.org/moduls/normative-conflicts-and-transformat....