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Locating Environmental Knowledge in Antipollution Movements of Northern India

Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements

ISBN: 978-1-78350-697-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-686-6

Publication date: 26 November 2014


Recent years have produced significant demand for geographical contributions to the study of social movements in general and of environmental social movement organizations (ESMOs) in particular. Geographical approaches to the study of ESMOs emphasize “the mediation of social movement agency by place” (Miller, 2000; Routledge, 1993) and call attention to the role of place-based environmental knowledge (EK) in the broader “struggle(s) over meaning” that increasingly constitute environmental politics (Buechler, 1997; Escobar, 1992; Rangan, 2000; Watts, 1990). My chapter responds to this call by providing an examination of the reproduction of EK by antipollution organizations in India’s central Ganges River Basin (GRB). Through interviews with organization leaders and members, along with analysis of organizational websites and publications, I examine the EK of two key antipollution organizations in the GRB: The Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) and Kanpur Eco-Friends (KEF). Analysis focuses on methods of knowledge reproduction employed by each organization, their respective framing practices, and the localized natures of the EK they reproduce. I argue that each organization works to reproduce a specific and place-based understanding of pollution in the GRB that informs their framing of the pollution problem, the tactical activities in which their members engage, and the power relations that exist between the two organizations and their leaders. Further, I argue that engaging with EK as both a method of understanding pollution and a tactic for consolidating political power is essential to making sense of the relative success of these movement organizations and the challenges they face in trying to build a broader coalition and mass-mobilization against pollution in the Ganges.



Kedzior, S.B. (2014), "Locating Environmental Knowledge in Antipollution Movements of Northern India", Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 79-115.



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