The social life (and afterlife) of extractive resources – everyday extractivism in India

Panel at the SANR Meeting 2021

An emerging new research on resource materialities aids our understanding of not just the political economy of the commodity chain of a resource but also the social life of resources. The re-appreciation of materiality is part of what has been termed the material (or relatedly the ontological) turn in a wider context of the exploration of human-non-human interactions, in this context pertaining to extractive resources or minerals. In particular, how resources are extracted in relation to certain types of changing land use patterns, technological and labour arrangements pertaining to the way they benefit some groups as opposed to others, while also generating forms of environmental pollution and finally shaping everyday politics and subjectivities. Therefore, in a developing country like India, where mineral sites and riverbeds have emerged as sites of  physical, structural and symbolic forms of conflict between the need for development and environmental protection, resource extraction is subsumed within quotidian relations of territorialization, extractive power and labor among multiple actors. While it is important to understand the everyday social life of these minerals, equally imperative is the afterlife. For example, a moratorium or intervention by judiciary on extraction in an area can lead to re-shaping of both the environmental as well as development discourses, thereby altering and even ushering in newer forms of power relations. Extractivism, by this logic therefore shapes and is shaped by both macro and micro processes around subject formation and power relations. Using case studies, consisting of rich empirics, this panel will attempt to inquire into and provide newer insights by comparing different forms of extraction/extractive processes across India's federal geography, including but not limited to coal, river-bed sand and iron-ore.


  • Patrik Oskarsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Kenneth Bo Nielsen, University of Oslo
  • Bengt Karlsson, Stockholm University
  • Anwesha Dutta, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen