After displacement: (Re)Settlements, People, Policies and Outcomes
This panel analyzes life after displacement by teasing out the processes from the moment of dislocation to the settling of the displaced in their new location. While “displacement studies” have grown more numerous since the 1990s, research on what comes after displacement is curiously rarer.
· Arnab Roy Chowdhuri Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia)
· Asmita Kabra Ambedkar University, School of Human Ecology (New Delhi, India)
· Vikramaditya Thakur University of Delaware, Department of anthropology (Wilmington, United States of America)
Postcolonial South Asia has seen massive forced displacement due to development and infrastructure projects, urbanization and biodiversity conservation, driven by state and private entities. In India alone, displacement figures are pegged at over 70 million people, mostly rural, and resettlement outcomes have been mostly reported as negative. Literature on forced displacement broadly falls into techno-managerial or movementist approaches. A growing body of work is now looking at drivers, policies, processes and differential outcomes of ‘new land wars’ under neoliberalism, while older forms of state-led displacement also continue. While the predominant focus of literature is on the state-society interface at the ‘moment of displacement’, very few long-term studies are available about the existences of displaced and resettled people. There is indeed a conspicuous gap in studying displacement and resettlement as an extended and complex process, with a focus on the affected people as active social agents (re-)shaping their lives in diverse ways within broad structural constraints. We contend that the majority of the displaced continue to reside in the vicinity of the very projects that evicted them, in ‘new villages’, ‘resettlement colonies’, ‘transit camps’ or small rectilinear looking towns, often half-deserted. This panel analyzes these spaces from the moment of dislocation to the resettlement at the new location, and the entire gamut of after-displacement experiences, marked by diversified outcomes, including their liminal existence, resilience, conflicts, negotiations and efforts for reconstructing their lives in a new setting.