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Dispossession without Development: Land Grabs in Neoliberal India (Modern South Asia)


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Winner of the 2019 Global and Transnational Sociology Best Book Award, American Sociological Association
Winner of the 2019 Political Economy of World System (PEWS) Distinguished Book Award, American Sociological Association
Received Honorable Mention for the 2019 Asia/Transnational Book Award, American Sociological Association

Since the mid-2000s, India has been beset by widespread farmer protests against land dispossession. Dispossession Without Development demonstrates that beneath these conflicts lay a profound shift in regimes of dispossession. While the postcolonial Indian state dispossessed land mostly for public-sector industry and infrastructure, since the 1990s state governments have become land brokers for private real estate capital. Using the case of a village in Rajasthan that was dispossessed for a private Special Economic Zone, the book ethnographically illustrates the exclusionary trajectory of capitalism driving dispossession in contemporary India. Taking us into the lives of diverse villagers in "Rajpura," the book meticulously documents the destruction of agricultural livelihoods, the marginalization of rural labor, the spatial uneveness of infrastructure provision, and the dramatic consequences of real estate speculation for social inequality and village politics. Illuminating the structural underpinnings of land struggles in contemporary India, this book will resonate in any place where "land grabs" have fueled conflict in recent years.