Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationYale U.
Grant numberGr. 10030
Approve DateAugust 26, 2020
Project TitleSharma, Tanmoy (Yale U.) "Contentious Agreements: The Making and Remaking of a Hydrocarbon Regime in India"
This ethnographic project asks: How is a hydrocarbon regime created, maintained and transformed through agreements, mediating corporate visions, indigenous demands and governmental procedures? The project hopes to advance our understanding of the energy industry, exchange relations and indigenous politics through an ethnographic study of the social life of agreements in an extractive zone. The project investigates the proliferation of collective, highly politicized, and legally non-binding agreements that animate the operations of India’s oil and gas industry in Upper Assam today. This multi-ethnic region is the birthplace and a key onshore basin of the Indian hydrocarbon sector. As energy projects continue to multiply in the region, agreements have become both the condition and consequence of an emergent repertoire of local contestations and cooperation over the oil and gas industry. I will conduct 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork among oil executives, corporate employees, contractors, indigenous activists, rural residents and government officials in Upper Assam’s oil belt, and study the semiotic, social and material processes that go into the making and breaking of agreements, that, in turn, affect the workings of the oil and gas industry.