New book by Nikita Sud explores complex role of land in India

22 March, 2021

A new book by Nikita Sud explores the nature and role of land in India. 

What is land and how is it made? In this study of sites in western, eastern and southern India, Nikita Sud argues that land is not simply the solid surface of the earth. It is best understood as a materially and conceptually dynamic realm, intimately tied to the social. As such, land transitions across porous registers of territory, property, authority, the sacred, history and memory, and contested access and exclusion.

While states, markets and politics in post-liberalisation India try to make land suitable for 'growth' and 'development', Sud reveals that the relationship between the soil and institutions is never straightforward. A state attempting to order a layered topography is frequently stretched into shadowy domains of informality and unsanctioned practices. A market may be advanced, but remains precariously embedded in sociality. Politics could challenge the land-making of the state and markets. It may also effect compromises. Attempts at constructing a durable landed order thus reveal our own (dis)orders. In attempting to 'make' the land, Sud's study shows how the land simultaneously 'makes' us.

Nikita Sud (2020) The Making of Land and The Making of India, Oxford University Press