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Environmental Values

Forest Co-management as Science and Democracy in West Bengal, India

K. Sivaramakrishnan

Environmental Values 11(2002): 277-302. doi: 10.3197/096327102129341091

This essay argues that important development and natural resource management initiatives that seek to expand meaningful participation by rural communities directly affected by such ventures can be usefully examined as democratic technologies. Drawing upon nearly two decades of experience designing, implementing, and researching forest co-management programs in India, the essay examines the analogous practices through which democracy and forest management science become contested regulatory ideals while creating the deliberative spaces in which post-Habermasian public spheres can be constructed. The analysis of disciplinary tendencies, bureaucratic transition, and emerging solidarities among historically marginalised groups responding to the performance of democracy and scientific forest management is used to offer revisions to the more sweeping critiques of technology as fundamentally anti-democratic.

KEYWORDS: Forest management, science studies, cultural politics, democracy, critical theory, environment and development, India

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