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New book on River Control in India

Mar 19, 2014

"River Control in India: Spatial, Governmental and Subjective Dimensions" is a new book by Dr. Ravi Baghel. The book explores some salient aspects of expert discourse on large dams and flood control in the Indian context. It has been published in the series "Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research" by Springer.

Large river systems throughout the planet have been dramatically transformed due to river control projects such as large dams and embankments. Unlike other major human impacts like anthropogenic climate change, the alteration of river systems has been deliberate and planned by a small, powerful set of experts. Taking India as a case study, this book examines the way experts transform the planet through their discourse by their advocacy of river projects. This book identifies the spatial aspects of the norms through which the ideal river and the deficient river in need of control are produced. The role of governmental rationality in explaining the seemingly irrational and counter-productive effects of large projects like Kosi river embankments is considered. Finally using autobiographical material, the subjectivity of expert advice is examined, questioning its presumed objectivity. By examining the different subjective stances arising from the same body of expertise, this book discusses the consequences this has for river control specifically, and for the relation between expertise and environmental change in general.

This book, based upon the author's PhD research, demonstrates that expert discourse has spatial and material effects, thereby extending more conventional Foucauldian methods in the Social Sciences. It argues that subjectivity of expertise is an overlooked and fruitful area of research. This work also contributes a South Asian case study to the literature in political ecology and human geography, framing it within discussions of planetary change. This work will be of interest to those engaged in research related to the geography of knowledge; political ecology and human dimensions of global change.

The book "River Control in India: Spatial, Governmental and Subjective Dimensions" -165 pages- was published by Springer in early 2014. A free preview is available online. A hardcopy can be found in the Cluster's library and other University libraries.

Dr. Ravi Baghel is a postdoctoral researcher working in the Project MC 9.1 "Himalayan Glaciers". His current research examines the production of Himalayan glaciers as sources of environmental knowledge. This research is conducted under the auspices of the interdisciplinary research group 'Waterscapes'. Dr. Baghel obtained his PhD in Geography from Heidelberg University in 2013. He was part of the first generation of the GPTS, and was associated with project C2 in the first funding period.


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