Suneel Kumar

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Georgia, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10014

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Kumar, Suneel (Georgia, U. of) "The Life of the Indus Delta: A More-Than-Human Ethnography"

SUNEEL KUMAR, then a graduate student at University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, was awarded funding in August 2020 to aid research on “The Life of the Indus Delta: A More-Than-Human Ethnography,” supervised by Dr. Laura Anne German. Historically, the Indus River deposited sediments for millennia through processes of soil accretion that formed deltaic lands. Marine sea tides, typhoons, and earthquakes eroded these lands, creating wetlands, estuaries, and lagoons — facilitating human settlements, mangrove formations, and fish migration, among others. However, the Indus Delta is being transformed due to one of the largest colonial and postcolonial irrigation infrastructures, which interrupts riverine flow and processes of soil accretion. Recent climate change-induced extreme calamities also exacerbate saltwater intrusion, causing erosion. This research explores how the changing dynamics of soil accretion and erosion shape the physicality (land-water configuration) of the Indus Delta, and how this has in turn shaped the relations between humans and other species and physical processes in the Indus Delta of Pakistan. Blending ethnography with river ecology and archival work, this research offers an ethnographic analysis of the deltaic processes as they mediate and complicate lives and relations of humans and nonhuman beings in unexpected ways at multiple scales. By foregrounding the Indus Delta as a geological and hydrological agent, this research goes beyond dominant narratives about the delta’s decline to tell the stories of the entanglement of inhuman deltaic processes with humans and other beings.