On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute, Department of Political Science and El Instituto sponsored a book launch for AAASI Affiliate Faculty Prakash Kashwan
In Democracy in the Woods, released for publication in February 2017 by Oxford University Press, PRAKASH KASHWAN, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Affiliate Faculty of India Studies and Asian/Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, asks how societies negotiate the apparently competing agendas of environmental protection and social justice, and why do some countries perform much better than others on this front?
By examining land rights conflicts-and the fate of forest-dependent peasants-in the context of the different forest property regimes in India, Tanzania, and Mexico, this unique comparative study of national forestland regimes challenges the received wisdom that redistributive policies necessarily undermine the goals of environmental protection. It shows instead that the form that national environmental protection efforts take – either inclusive (as in Mexico) or exclusive (as in Tanzania and, for the most part, in India) – depends on whether dominant political parties are compelled to create structures of political intermediation that channel peasant demands for forest and land rights into the policy process.
Prof. Kashwan’s book offers three different tests of this theory of political origins of forestland regimes. First, it explains why it took the Indian political elites nearly sixty years to introduce meaningful reforms of the colonial-era forestland regimes. Second, it successfully explains the rather counterintuitive local outcomes of the programs for formalization of land rights in India, Tanzania, and Mexico. Third, it provides a coherent explanation of why each of these three countries proposes a significantly different distribution of the benefits of forest-based climate change mitigation programs being developed under the auspices of the United Nations.
In its political analysis of the control over and the use of nature, this book opens up new avenues for reflecting on how legacies of the past and international interventions interject into domestic political processes to produce specific configurations of environmental protection and social justice. Democracy in the Woods is included in OUP’s Studies in Comparative Energy and Environmental Politics Series.