Enduring Erosions: Environmental Displacement and Relocation on India’s Sinking Coasts
- About the Book
“Talking to people as we make our way around the village, we learn about the consequences of coastal erosion. We hear about, and see, the progress made by the sea and the rather futile efforts to subdue the liquification of land by these marginalized islanders. We confirm changes, evaluating the present against past visits, knowing very well that these are mere snapshots. We relearn the coast as we realize that all of it will be undone in due course. All that we see now and the ground we walk upon will likely be gone very soon. What we are doing is tracing a landscape in flux. To be sure, all kinds of places are continuously transformed by diverse actors, but few with such velocity. Gnawed at and rolled over by an unruly river and a rising sea, this is a place enfolded in the drawn-out process of coastal erosion.” —from the Introduction
As the world debates what climate change has in store for its low-lying coasts, the people of India’s Sundarbans, located at the southwestern edge of the Ganges delta, have weathered shrinking and sinking lands for decades. Arne Harms follows islanders as they navigate and look back on the experience of collapsing embankments, recurrent floods, and, ultimately, the disappearance of land and homesteads. Challenging the all-too-convenient notion of “climate refugees,” Harms contends that islanders are not the obstinate victims of a rising sea or that the submerging of islands can be blamed on climate change alone. Situating sea-level rise amidst environmental transformation and state relations, Enduring Erosions looks to past and present experiences in the Sundarbans as a window into what the future has in store for people on many of Asia’s low-lying, crowded shores.
- About the Author(s)
Arne Harms, AuthorArne Harms is senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale.