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The Art and Politics of Ecology in India

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Abstract:

This roundtable discussion with artist and activist Ravi Agarwal and film-maker and photographer Sanjay Kak, moderated by T J Demos, explores the politics of ecology in the Indian context. The conversation considers, among other works, Kak's film Words on Water (2002), which looks at the issue of big dams and their negative social-economic effects in the Narmada valley; and Agarwal's photographic installation Extinction, which examines the disappearance of vultures on the subcontinent owing to the development of animal pharmaceuticals used to maximize milk production. The conversation critically examines the introduction of neoliberalism in the Indian economy and political context, and the anti-democratic activity of multinational corporations, in relation to the destruction of the natural environment, the growth of economic inequality, and the dispossession of tribal peoples via the governmental-corporate development of mega-dams and industrial mining projects. The discussion revolves around the aesthetic approaches artists have used in addressing such ecological emergencies.

Keywords: India; activism; aesthetics; documentary; ecology; environment; film; neoliberalism; photography; politics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09528822.2013.752201

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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