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142009 SE Environmental and Ecological Spokespersons and Movements in India (2021W)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 18 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

The first session of the course will be held digitally. It is therefore important to make sure that moodle access exists before the first session on October 16. The following sessions are planned to be in presence. Changes in this regard will be announced.

Saturday 16.10. 11:00 - 16:00 Digital
Saturday 20.11. 11:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 6 ISTB UniCampus Hof 4 2C-O1-37
Saturday 27.11. 11:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 6 ISTB UniCampus Hof 4 2C-O1-37
Saturday 15.01. 11:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 6 ISTB UniCampus Hof 4 2C-O1-37


Aims, contents and method of the course

Spontaneous movements, mostly initiated, organised and carried out by forest dwellers (Adivasi) or by farmers whose livelihood was threatened, have been frequent in India’s history and have continued to this day. For a long time, Indian urban intellectuals as well as village leaders have expressed concerns in regards to the depletion of soil, droughts and floods, air pollution, and/or subsiding bio-diversity.

This course will provide an overview of various forms of environmental and ecological activities in India and inform on:
- Differences and commonalities between social, environmental and ecological movements
- Women’s participation in these movements and India’s version of ecofeminism
- Solidarity and tension among rural and urban, illiterate and formally educated participants of these movements
- Differences between movements where one cause is identified (i.e mining) and where depletion is caused by multiple factors (i.e. air pollution)
- The relationship between environmental movements, NGO’s and concerned citizens and the state
- The role of international networks and support from abroad

On Oct. 16th, the course begins with an introduction to the topic and an overview of possible themes for a presentation. These include movements such as the protests against the Silent Valley Hydroelectric Project, the Chipco Andolan, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, and the protests against Bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills. Other possible themes for a presentation are on individual spokespersons (researchers, public intellectuals and/or activists) like Amrita Devi Beniwal Bishnoi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sunita Narain, Vandana Shiva or the many Indian recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize (Green Nobel Prize)“.

Until Nov. 1, 2021 students need to decide on a topic for in-depth research which will thereafter be guided by the instructor. The resulting power-point/keynote presentation should include excerpts from various forms of expression such as videos, literature, story telling and/or songs (e.g. Chennai Pormboke Paadal (https://youtu be/82jFyeV5AHM).

Assessment and permitted materials

Based on the focussed research and its presentation a text of 15-20 pages has to be submitted before April 5th, 2022. This paper can be written in German or in English. It has to conform to academic standards.
The grade is based 50% on the presentation as well as on the active participation in discussions during the course and 50% on the quality of the final academic text.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Basic knowledge of South Asian geography, history and culture as well as the ability to read and communicate in English are essential.

Examination topics

Reading list

Bandyopadhyay, Jayanta and Vandana Shiva. "Political Economy of Ecology Movements." Economic and Political Weekly 23.24 (1988): 1223-1232.

Baviskar, Amita. "Nation’s Body, River’s Pulse: Narratives of Anti-dam Politics in India." Thesis Eleven 150.1 (2019): 26-41.

Baviskar, Amita. "Red in Tooth and Claw?" in: Ray, Raka and Mary Fainsod Katzenstein Eds.). Social Movements in India: Poverty, Power, and Politics. Lanham [u.a.] Rowman & Littlefield 2005, 161-178.

Guha Ramachandra. The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, Berkeley, Calif. [u.a.] : Univ. of California Press, 2000 (expanded ed.).

Narain, Sunita. Conflicts of Interest: My Journey Through India’s Green Movement. New Delhi: Penguin Random House India, 2017.

Nayak, Arun Kumar. "Environmental Movements in India." Journal of Developing Societies 31.2 (2015): 249-80.

Padel, Felix and Das, Samarendra. Out of this Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010.

Rangarajan, Mahesh (Ed.). Environmental Issues in India: A Reader. New Delhi: Pearson, 8th Impression 2012. (Section IV: Movements and Alternatives, pp. 381-515).

Sangvai, Sanjay. The River and Life: People's Struggle in the Narmada Valley. Mumbai: Earthcare Books, revised 2nd ed. 2002.

Vora Rajendra. The World’s First Anti-dam Movement: The Mulshi Satyagraha, 1920–1924. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2009.

Association in the course directory


Last modified: We 29.09.2021 14:49