Living with Oil and Coal
Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India
- PUBLISHED: April 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / South Asia, Nature and Environment, Anthropology
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 204 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 13 b&w illus., 2 maps
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295743950
The nineteenth-century discovery of oil in the eastern Himalayan foothills, together with the establishment of tea plantations and other extractive industries, continues to have a profound impact on life in the region. In the Indian states of Assam and Nagaland, everyday militarization, violence, and the scramble for natural resources regulate the lives of Naga, Ahom, and Adivasi people, as well as migrants from elsewhere in the region, as they struggle to find peace and work.
Anthropologist Dolly Kikon uses in-depth ethnographic accounts to address the complexity of Northeast India, a region between Southeast Asia and China where boundaries and borders are made, disputed, and maintained. Bringing a fresh and exciting direction to borderland studies, she explores the social bonds established through practices of resource extraction and the tensions these relations generate, focusing on peoples’ love for the landscape and for the state, as well as for family, friends, and neighbors. Living with Oil and Coal illuminates questions of citizenship, social justice, and environmental politics that are shared by communities worldwide.
Authors & Contributors
Dolly Kikon is senior lecturer in the Anthropology and Development Studies Program at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Life and Dignity: Women’s Testimonies of Sexual Violence in Dimapur (Nagaland) and Experiences of Naga Women in Armed Conflict: Narratives from a Militarized Society.
In Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India, anthropologist Dolly Kikon offers a rich account of life in the midst of a landscape defined by multiple overlapping extractive industries and plantation economies, and of the social relations through which a resource frontier comes into being.- New Books in Anthropology podcast
This is a versatile book that would be accessible for undergraduate audiences, yet contains complexity that would be of great interest for graduate audiences and scholars as well.- Electronic Green Journal
Kikon’s ethnography is rich, diverse, and makes an engaging read.- Contributions to Indian Sociology
The strength of Kikon’s work is...in the creativity and skill of its synthesis of existing theoretical work, applied to a new context and matched with local knowledge.- Anthropologica
[A] beautiful and gripping account of the intimate layers of life, vio-lence and sovereignty pattered throughout the militarised carbon landscape of the foothills of Assam and Nagaland in North East India.- Postcolonial Studies
[E]vocatively captures the intricacies and intimacies of daily life on this militarized resource frontier, drawing from stories, oral histories, and local myths, in spaces ranging from coal mines to oil rigs, rice fields to weekly markets and military checkpoints. Throughout, the book remains focused on the fragile and contested intimacies forged through trade, labor sharing, and love affairs across boundaries that are at once social, political, and ecological.- PoLAR: Political & Legal Anthropology Review
[A] fantastic read, a book that speaks to scholars as well as general public. Kikon combines grounded ethnography with theoretical elabortation, setting a new standard of excellence for the anthropology of the North East.- Economic and Political Weekly
Kikon has crafted the book skilfully with her narrative writing style...This book is an essential reading for those who want to understand the complex state-society dynamics in Northeast India.- Cultural Geographies
Dolly Kikon’s book, undoubtedly a fascinating work of ethnography, compels us to problematize seemingly unitary categories of hills and other land and waterscapes and also to think of the impact of extractive regimes not only on the environment but also on how environment then comes to exist for the human societies who experience them.- Seminar
Living with Oil and Coal is full of stories that in their telling and retelling create and re-create relations among a range of actors, constructing borderlands as sites for citizenship, negotiations over sovereignty, transgressive love, and exchange. This book will change forever the way Northeast India is imagined, studied, and written about.- Nandini Sundar, professor, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
Dolly Kikon brings the landscapes, laws, and people of the foothills of Northeast India to life through a fascinating ethnography of households, mining sites, fairs, and markets.- Duncan McDuie-Ra, author of Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway
A richly detailed ethnographic study from the vantage point of the hill people that shows how the society, economy, and polity functions are seen [in Northeast India] by the people living there.- Arupjyoti Saikia, author of Forests and Ecological History of Assam, 1826-2000