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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2003  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 177-208

Community, Class and Conservation: Development Politics on the Kanyakumari Coast


Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ajantha Subramanian
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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In this article I trace the chequered history of 'community' in the coastal belt of Kanyakumari district, from its immediate post-independence role as a mechanism of state intervention in fisheries development to its use in the 1990s in fisher claims to rights and resources, and as a means for devolving conflict management to the local level. I show that the expansion of the state system, in part through development intervention, opened up a charged political arena where Kanyakumari's fishers acquired new tools to negotiate political authority, redefine community and articulate new rights of citizenship. Most importantly, I demonstrate that the development process furthered the mutual implication of state and community, a process that the state has been reluctant to acknowledge. I end the article by arguing that the Tamil Nadu state government's neglect of marine conservation is a function of a bureaucratic sensibility that distinguishes 'state policy' from 'community politics', and resource conservation from social justice, an attitude that has hardened with economic liberalisation. This perspective has prevented the government from taking seriously artisanal fisher demands for trawler regulation and from recognising artisanal activism as a defence of both sectoral rights and of conservation.


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