Beyond (Un)Stable - Chars as Dynamic Destabilisers of Problematic Binaries

Jenia Mukherjee, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, Raktima Gosh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Until recently, river islands have been neglected in island studies and river/water schol- arship. We address this research gap by focusing on the ‘fluidscape’ of the Lower Ganga Basin, West Bengal, India. Drawing empirical insights on chars (river islands) of the River Ganga, located upstream and downstream of the Farakka Barrage, we present lives and livelihoods in this ‘ever-shift- ing landscape’ and demonstrate how the barrage project led to transplantation–obliteration– resurrection of chars in repetitive cycles and activated ambivalence among choruas (communities inhabiting chars). Our fluid tales of everydayness in the volatile river islands show how these ‘mud- dyscapes of hazards’ become ‘muddyscapes of opportunities’ along ‘situated adaptive practices’ and contingent adjustments pursued by choruas. We establish chars as the most significant metaphor of destabilisation, dislodging widely held ideas about rivers, vulnerability, adaptation, among oth- ers. The deployment of ‘volatility’ as the theoretical-conceptual traction allows us to perceive chars beyond vulnerability and instead as viablescapes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-133
    JournalSocial Anthropology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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