Territorialization, Resistance and the Mirage of Permanent Boundaries: Forests of the Western Himalayas, 1876-1897

Chhatre, A (2001) Territorialization, Resistance and the Mirage of Permanent Boundaries: Forests of the Western Himalayas, 1876-1897. Himalaya, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 21 (2). pp. 1876-1897.



Internal territorialization is described as the attempt to circumscribe the use of various resources, such as land and forests, within the boundaries of a nation-state. This translates into the creation of property rights for different social actors and the demarcation of a physical sphere wherein such rights could be exercised. The notion of permanent boundaries around forests, where local people lack property rights, is popular with all arms of the state, everywhere. This paper traces the first attempts by the colonial state in the Indian Western Himalayas to draw boundaries around forests and define the rights of local populations. The process, which intensified with the publication of a Forest Department report in 1876, was fraught with obstacles at several levels throughout its course. It met sustained resistance from the peasants, who fought restrictions on their use of the forests. More importantly, horizontal tensions across different departments and vertical tensions between local knowledge professed by provincial bureaucracy on the one hand, and central direction emanating from the scientific establishment around forest management on the other, frustrated any attempt at uniformity in state responses. All these factors worked in tandem over the last quarter of the 19'11 century in Kulu sub-division, a site saliently embedded in the emerging political economy as seen in expanding canal irrigation in the Punjab as well as rising demand for the prized timber abundant in Kulu. I argue that the project to create permanent boundaries around forests was never accomplished in Kulu, with the Forest Settlement Report of 1897 failing both to keep the people out of forests and to bridge intra-state divisions. This triumvirate of mutual tensions-local resistance, local knowledge, and central direction-was instrumental in constituting the 'state' and proved to be the salient feature of later state-society interactions.

Affiliation: Indian School of Business
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ISB CreatorsORCiD
Chhatre, Ahttp://orcid.org/0000-0002-5374-7867
Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The research paper was published by the author with the affiliation of Duke University.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Territorialization, Resistance, Western Himalayas,
Subjects: Socio Political System
Depositing User: Veeramani R
Date Deposited: 16 May 2019 12:20
Last Modified: 16 May 2019 12:20
URI: http://eprints.exchange.isb.edu/id/eprint/975
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