Pooja Nayak

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9835

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Nayak, Pooja (Pennsylvania, U. of) "Between Rust and Ferns: Ecological Security and the Politics of Value in India," supervised by Dr. Lisa Mitchell

POOJA NAYAK, then a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in April 2019 to aid research on ‘Between Rust and Ferns: Ecological Security and the Politics of Value in India,’ supervised by Dr. Lisa Mitchell. How do communities reconfigure value when attempts at ecological security displace profitable industrial work in deindustrial zones? This project seeks to illuminate the politics of value around ecological securitization practices and the emerging ‘bioeconomy’ in the Kudremukh region in south India, where a state-owned profitable iron-ore mine was decommissioned and incorporated within a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ after activists’ petitioned for the mine’s closure. As more than 2000 employees lost their livelihood and the celebrated industrial township decayed, the region’s endemic flora and fauna found tenuous security. Yet, even this biodiversity appears to be under threat from an invasive species of fern. Grounded in ethnographic methods and archival materials, this project engages with communities (such as ex-mine employees, biologists, conservationists, and entrepreneurial residents), practices (such as biological experiments with bats, crickets, and ferns), and with textual sources like protest letters, geological essays, and district gazetteers. Situated at the interstices of industrial closure, markets, and biodiversity, my project seeks to contribute to analyses of ecological future-making projects, and their power to make and unmake new multi-species communities.