Developing compliance and resistance: the state, transnational social movements and tribal peoples contesting India's Narmada project



In this article I conceptualize a conflict over the Narmada damming project in central India by highlighting particular spatial fields and larger trajectories of political interaction. The Narmada project's maintenance and destabilization is evinced in a range of processes, including conflict over afforestation in tribal villages, protest narratives over resettlement in regional centres, and transnational lobbying of donor agencies. The interpenetration of social practices by different scales, and the mobility of discourses are emphasized. Further, I examine how organizational and social decisions such as implementing a rehabilitation programme, accepting state compensation and participating in public protest point to the contingent nature of power, revealing both complicity and disarticulation between involved parties. Descriptive points and commentary focus on the Indian riparian states implementing the project; the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement); and affected adivasi (tribal) communities in the Narmada Valley.