Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Over the last two decades, environmental anthropologists have followed Amita Baviskar to the city. Having begun her research amidst a powerful campaign to stop the construction of dams on the Narmada river, Amita Baviskar’s attention to waterscapes then flowed downstream to cities and the environments they make. Her work has been critical to understanding the structural conditions that condition environmental practices among marginalized groups across country and city. Through her work on social waterscapes, air and infrastructure in Delhi, Baviskar has focused on the violence and inequity of environments and urban environmentalism. For example, her research on “bourgeois environmentalism” has drawn attention to the classed aesthetics and values of place that urban environmentalists often mobilize to displace workers and informal residents from the city. Finally, Baviskar has been a critical interlocutor for studies of urban infrastructure when she has urged a consideration of both the material and symbolic dimensions of environmental projects. Biophysical qualities of our lived environments, she has shown, are not just backdrops to political economic projects of control. Instead they are key to the ways in which environmental resources are brought into being, governed and troubled in the contemporary moment. As an engaged public intellectual, Baviskar consciously traversed disciplinary and geographic boundaries in her work. Taken together, her work is critical to understanding the important conceptual contributions in environmental anthropology and urban political ecology today.