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In Chhattisgarh, India an unusual coalition between Indigenous and low-caste communities has emerged to fight state concessions and corporate mining efforts, and to call for a ‘development path’.
Both the goal of the Koyla Satyagraha (KS) movement and the unusual shape of their collective struggle challenge conventional perspectives of movements as either one rooted in structural concerns or rooted in cultural questions of identity. An empirical case study of the KS reveals a false binary in social movement theories between the old social movements (OSMs) rooted in structural, economic demands, and new social movements (NSMs) rooted in cultural concerns.
The evidence of the case demonstrates the need to bridge the dichotomy of old and new tactics and bring together concerns of culture and structure in a social struggle to adequately explain the rural, multi-caste and indigenous people’s claim to mining rights—a collective model of self-development. This is particularly relevant in the globalization era of accelerated corporate-state development and ongoing dispossessions and displacements of rural people from the land and livelihoods. Influenced by the Salt Satyagraha, the famous anti-colonial protest in India led by Mahatma Gandhi almost a century back, this non-violent people’s movement demonstrates what a transdisciplinary orientation can do for understanding social movements.
Speaker's Bio: Dr. Sejuti Das Gupta
Sejuti Das Gupta is an Assistant Professor in Comparative Cultures and Politics at Michigan State University. She was a Felix scholar at SOAS, University of London where she received her doctorate in Development Studies. She has authored Class, Politics and Agrarian Policies in Post-liberalisation India (Cambridge University Press, 2019). Following her PhD, she served as academic coordinator for Master’s in Development Practice under the Prime Minister's Rural Development Fellows' Scheme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, where she worked on issues of mining, land acquisition and displacement. Her areas of interest are capitalism, colonialism, agrarian political economy, public policy, class-caste and state-society interactions. Her current research focus is the impact of COVID-19 on women and their work in Lansing. She was recently awarded a Regional Economic Initiative grant to conduct research on the pandemic’s effect on women’s work in Michigan on a formal-informal continuum.