Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

The Making of Land and the Making of India

A Virtual Book Talk with the Author

in partnership with the South Asia Center, Penn Earth & Environmental Science, and Penn Anthropology

Nikita Sud
Professor of the Politics of Development, Oxford University
Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 12:00
A Virtual CASI Book Talk via Zoom — 12 noon EST | 10:30pm IST

About the Book:
For long, humans have conceived of land as inert. Modernization as the institutional control of nature sought to mold this land, as also water, air, minerals, flora, and fauna in the service of economic growth. Building on research from across the social sciences, Prof. Sud's work rethinks land as the solid, dry surface of the earth. Instead, it presents land as multi-dimensional. Land is imbued with identity and history. It is simultaneously enlivened, territory, property, authority, and a point of contested access and exclusion. Materially and conceptually "unfixed" land is not "naturally" so. It is constantly made and re-made by institutions of the state, market, and politics. In her field sites in post-liberalization, globalizing India, land is sought to be ordered for capitalist development. In the process, a state attempting to order a layered topography is stretched into shadowy domains of informality and unsanctioned practices. A market in land may be advanced, but remains precariously embedded in sociality. Politics may challenge the land-making of the state and market. It may also effect compromises. Attempts at constructing a durable landed order thus reveal our own (dis)orders. In attempting to "make" the land, she shows that the land simultaneously "makes" us.

About the Author:
Nikita Sud is Professor of the Politics of Development at the University of Oxford. She is Governing Body Fellow and Vicegerent (Deputy Head) of Wolfson College. She researches the neoliberal transformation of the state and governance in the Global South; the social and political life of nature, especially land in the era of Climate Change; and the sociology, politics, and political ecology of contemporary India. She is the author of the academic monographs The Making of Land and The Making of India (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and The State: A Biography of Gujarat (Oxford University Press, 2012). Besides publishing in journals across the social sciences, Nikita speaks and writes regularly for the media. Her work has appeared in The Conversation,,, NDTV, Thomson Reuters Place, Mongabay, Al Jazeera, openDemocracy, East Asia Forum, BBC World Service, Radio 4, and Radio France and Mediapart.