Agrawal, Arun 1962–
Agrawal, Arun 1962–
Born September 20, 1962. Education: Delhi University, India, B.A., 1983; Indian Institute of Management, M.B.A., 1985; Duke University, M.A., 1988, Ph.D., 1992.
Writer, educator. University of Florida, Gainesville, assistant professor, 1993-97; Yale University, New Haven, CT, assistant professor, 1997-2000, associate professor, 2000-02; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, associate professor, 2002-03; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, associate professor, 2003—; International Forestry Resources and Institutions Network, coordinator, 2006—; Harvard University, Center for International Development, visiting scholar.
American Political Science Association.
MacArthur Foundation Grant, 2006; two National Science Foundation grants.
The Grass Is Greener on the Other Side: A Study of Raikas, Migrant Pastoralists of Rajasthan, IIED (London, England), 1992.
(With Charla Britt and Keshav Kanel) Decentralization in Nepal: A Comparative Analysis: A Report on the Participatory District Development Program, ICS Press (Oakland, CA), 1999.
Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1999.
(With Jesse C. Ribot) Analyzing Decentralization: A Framework with South Asian and West African Environmental Cases, World Resources Institute (Washington, DC), 2000.
(Editor, with K. Sivaramakrishnan) Agrarian Environments: Resources, Representations, and Rule in India, foreword by James C. Scott, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2000.
(Editor, with Clark C. Gibson, and author of introduction) Communities and the Environment: Ethnicity, Gender, and the State in Community-Based Conservation, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 2001.
Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2005.
Contributor of articles to scholarly journals. Also contributor of chapters to scholarly books.
Arun Agrawal is an academic who specializes in environmental politics. His research centers on the political economy of conservation and development. Agrawal's books and articles deal with topics from locally developed conservation policies to indigenous knowledge, international development policies, and population and resources, all with a particular focus on South Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In his 1999 study Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People, Agrawal "analyses processes of economic and political decision-making among Raika shepherds in Rajasthan," as Nomadic Peoples contributor Bahram Tavakolian noted. The book is a result of extensive field research in the western Indian state of Rajasthan as Agrawal followed the annual travels of the nomadic Raika, who raise sheep for their livelihood. The author wanted to discover why these people migrate and also why they migrate in large groups. Writing in Human Ecology, Michael J. Casimir commented that the focus of Agrawal's study was "on the relationship between [the Raikas'] spatial mobility and decision making that effects individuals and the community at three levels: within the community, with agrarian communities and markets, and finally with officials and neighbors." Casimir further wrote, "Cleverly and sensitively combining considerable quantitative data with local narratives, Agrawal examines the practice of mobility, and through this again, the contexts and practice of decision-making among the Raika." Agrawal not only looks at present conditions for these nomadic people, but also at their history, their origin myths, and the manner in which they were previously under the control and/or protection of various maharajas, or local rulers. Casimir concluded that Greener Pastures was "an exceptionally rich and interesting study and is essential reading for all those interested in migrating peoples." Similarly, David B.H. Denoon, writing in the American Political Science Review, felt the same book "nicely illustrates how a consistent theoretical approach links many different types of complex behavior." Denoon went on to observe that Greener Pastures "will be essential reading for specialists on India and rural development, but it is accessible and of interest to a very broad audience."
In Agrarian Environments: Resources, Representations, and Rule in India, Agrawal edited, with K. Sivaramakrishnan, numerous essays dealing with agrarian environmental transformation. Chapters present case studies from various regions of India that look at gender relations and agricultural livelihood; that explore community and its links to the environment; and that investigate the role of agrarian change in the transformation of environmentalism. Environment critic Maarit Thiem felt the book "presents an exciting approach that could be applied on a larger scale." Likewise, Manish K. Thakur, writing in the Journal of Development Studies, concluded: "Given its theoretical profundity, [Agrarian Environments] is a must read for all those having an interest in agrarian-environmental studies." as well as a "fine piece of interdisciplinary work." Agrawal again teamed up with Sivaramakrishnan to edit the 2004 title Regional Modernities: The Cultural Politics of Development in India. Here the editors present papers that examine "the complex interactions between modernity and globalization with cultural and conceptual theories," as History writer Lakshmi R. Iyer explained. Iyer went on term the title "skillfully crafted," and a "well-conceived and well-executed anthropological collection of essays."
Serving as an editor with Clark C. Gibson, Agrawal explores further environmental questions in Communities and the Environment: Ethnicity, Gender, and the State in Community-Based Conservation. Here he gathers essays examining aspects of community-based resource management as a mechanism for avoiding the bureaucracy of government-mandated programs and other such top-down approaches. Political Science Quarterly reviewer Judith A. Layzer praised the introduction provided by the editors: "In their clearly written introduction, editors Arun Agrawal and Clark C. Gibson argue persuasively that in order to understand the propensity of a community to conserve resources one must investigate its internal attributes and decision-making processes as well as its relationships with outside institutions." Layzer further noted: "Without question this volume accomplishes its primary goal: it thoroughly dispels the mythical concept of small, place-based, homogeneous communities that operate according to shared norms."
Agrawal's 2005 book Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects continues his investigations into aspects of modern environmentalism. Reviewing the book in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Herb Thompson explained, "By environmentality [Agrawal] refers to the ‘knowledges, politics, institutions, and subjectivities that come linked together with the emergence of the environment as a domain that requires regulation and protection.’" In other words, it is the study, over time, of how governance, identity, and environment all evolve together. Environmentality is based on field work Agrawal conducted in the northern India region of Kumaon, investigating how the indigenous population there has adapted over the past several generations in their relation to and knowledge of the environment, specifically in the maintenance and harvesting of their local forests. Agrawal shows a progression among the people of the region from staunchly protesting government environmental regulations in the 1920s to the point where, by the 1990s, they were setting their own local regulations to protect the forests. Thompson further noted: "Given that over 50 less economically developed nations in the world have begun to ‘localise’ their environmental protection schemes, Agrawal sees his work having global as well as local significance." Ethics and International Affairs contributor Joanne Bauer had praise for this title, commenting: "Using carefully constructed arguments, Agrawal successfully achieves his purpose of creating a framework for environmental policy analysis." Bauer went on to observe, "Environmentalists would undoubtedly benefit from the important insights that Agrawal offers." Similarly, Paul Robbins in the Geographical Review felt that Agrawal's arguments and conclusions were "backed with rich and detailed empirics that hammer home Agrawal's several claims and leave the reader with confidence that he does not select his evidence partially, nor miss much in his account." Robbins termed Environmentality an "outstanding book," and commended Agrawal for doing "a truly remarkable job of showing how social capital is actually formed through the production and management of a certain kind of self."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Ethnologist, February, 2001, David B.H. Denoon, review of Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets, and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People, p. 208.
American Historical Review, December, 2005, Gregory Barton, review of Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects, p. 1509.
American Political Science Review, September, 2000, David B.H. Denoon, review of Greener Pastures, p. 732; June, 2002, review of Communities and the Environment: Ethnicity, Gender, and the State in Community-Based Conservation, p. 436.
Choice, November, 1999, D.B. Heath, review of Greener Pastures, p. 580.
Contemporary Sociology, November, 2004, review of Regional Modernities: The Cultural Politics of Development in India, p. 749.
Environment, March, 2002, Maarit Thiem, review of Agrarian Environments: Resources, Representations, and Rule in India, p. 45.
Environmental Politics, February, 2006, "The Life and Death of Environmental Subjects," p. 115.
Ethics & International Affairs, December, 2005, Joanne Bauer, review of Environmentality, p. 116.
Geographical Review, October, 2006, Paul Robbins, review of Environmentality, p. 715.
History, spring, 2004, Lakshmi R. Iyer, review of Regional Modernities.
Human Ecology, April, 2005, Michael J. Casimir, review of Greener Pastures, p. 289.
Journal of Asian Studies, February, 2001, Robert Varady, review of Greener Pastures, p. 245; February, 2002, Brian Caton, review of Agrarian Environments, p. 282; May, 2005, Maxine Weisgrau, review of Regional Modernities, p. 502; November, 2006, Vinita Damodaran, review of Environmentality, p. 837.
Journal of Comparative Economics, March, 2000, Frederic L. Pryor, review of Greener Pastures, p. 207.
Journal of Contemporary Asia, August, 2006, Herb Thompson, review of Environmentality, p. 417.
Journal of Development Studies, February, 2003, Manish K. Thakur, review of Agrarian Environments, p. 211.
Nomadic Peoples, December, 2004, Bahram Tavakolian, review of Greener Pastures, p. 274.
Pacific Affairs, winter, 2006, J. Mark Baker, review of Environmentality.
Political Science Quarterly, fall, 2002, Judith A. Layzer, review of Communities and the Environment.
Prairie Schooner, fall, 2002, review of Communities and the Environment.
Public Administration Review, May, 2001, review of Agrarian Environments, p. 381.
Times Higher Education Supplement, September 1, 2006, "If Only We Could See the Teak for the Trees," p. 24.
Center for the Study of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Web site,http://www.csafe.org.nz/ (February 29, 2008), "Arun Agrawal."
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment Web site,http://www.snre.umich.edu/ (February 29, 2008), "Arun Agrawal, Ph.D."