Plenaries

1. An argument for a theory of livelihoods by Aparana Sundar

Processes linked to neoliberalisation, such as accumulation by dispossession, failed ‘agrarian transition,’ and jobless growth, have rendered ever-larger populations surplus to capital. With dispossession from the direct means of subsistence, the failure of the generalised capitalist system to provide a living wage, and the retreat of state provision even in the heartlands of the capitalist welfare state, precariousness has come to be the defining condition of the present. Contending seriously with this crisis of precariousness entails a search for concepts and frameworks adequate to it, for, ultimately, what is at stake is not wages, or employment, but the means of living. This requires that we turn from a focus on precarity, to what might be seen as its obverse – livelihoods. This paper is an attempt to theorise livelihoods, understood as an organising concept that brings together questions of production, social reproduction, and the conditions for these. Such a theorization would enable us to address both the structural conditions of loss of livelihoods, and the resources, practices, and politics deployed in resisting this loss. It may also have the potential to generate a new political vocabulary with which to articulate (in both senses of the term) struggles around land, labour, the commons, and social security.

About the speaker
Aparna Sundar works in the broad areas of political economy, comparative politics, and development. Currently, she is a visiting faculty at Azim Premji University. She was visiting faculty at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore. Prior to that, she was a faculty member for several years in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Toronto, where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in political theory, global politics, citizenship, and the politics of technology. She has also been active in social justice and equity work, including with the National Fishworkers Forum and the Toronto Social Forum.

Aparna co-edited a book, Civil Wars in South Asia: State, Sovereignty, Development (with Nandini Sundar) in 2014

2. The might and the plight of the 'Farmers of the Forest' by Rohit Naniwadekar

Hornbills are among the largest avian frugivores found in tropical forests. They are much more than their beautiful casque and colors, they are ecosystem engineers, which are fast being lost due to threats posed by hunting, logging and habitat loss. In this talk, I will demonstrate how many and how far do hornbills disperse seeds of their food plants and what happens to these plants when hornbills are lost from ecosystem due to anthropogenic threats. In the light of the different anthropogenic threats, I will also touch upon our understanding of what is the current status of the different hornbill species in north-east India and how has their distribution changed in the last 20 years. I will also briefly discuss how some of these research findings are linked with our ongoing conservation program for hornbills and their habitats in north-east India.

About the speaker
Rohit is interested in frugivory, seed dispersal and conservation of tropical forests and its inhabitants. His doctoral research focused on understanding the frugivory and seed dispersal by hornbills and their conservation status in Arunachal Pradesh. Subsequently, he has been involved in conducting a survey of hornbills across five states in north-east India to understand change in their distribution in the last 20 years. He is also involved in a telemetry study to understand the movement patterns of hornbills and is part of the Hornbill Watch team that aims to document hornbill presence across the country. His prior research has focused on understanding processes that govern the diversity patterns of amphibians in the wet forests of Western Ghats and in conducting surveys for large mammals in north-east India. His other interests include reading non-fiction and listening to Hindustani Classical Music.