Bobby Luthra Sinha

A Comparative Interpretation of Peoples’ Movements: Actors, Evolving Consciousness and Democratic Imagination in India and South Africa

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to comparatively analyze and juxtapose the narratives and practices engaged by the resource based social movements of India and South Africa into their respective democracies. Through observation, open ended interaction and consultative participation in the internal world of movement actors, the study looks at the state through the eyes of the grassroots. By collating the different modes and means that peoples movements use on the ground to address the law and authorities, the research aims to provide clarity on the actual dynamics between social movements and policy in democratic contexts.

New social movements in India and South Africa, have in recent times raised the rhetoric against the gap between the discourses and the practices of their democratic states. Of specific interest to this study is the politics of ecology and resource based movements whose actors use various kinds of sites, symbols and frames to challenge the hegemonic state in innovative ways. They also demonstrate alternative ways of making their narratives felt and strive for a role in policy implementation. How are the notions of democracy expanding or deepening (or otherwise) in this background? How do people cope up with the lack of or depletion of their rightful livelihood resources? What modes of action do they undertake and whom do they address? What common subjectivities do they share or what unique propositions do they forward?

The study seeks to interpret how peoples consciousness changes and evolves in the context of their lived experiences. And how do they further introduce this imagination in the concrete time and space of their movements and narratives for empowerment and socio-political transformation. We propose to understand closely the Bishnoi eco-social movements for the protection of their habitat (trees and animals) in Rajasthan and the shack dwellers' movements in Durban demanding dignified home-spaces.

Supervisor: Till Förster

Co-Supervisor: Madhulika Banerjee (Delhi University)




Memberships: Centre for African Studies