The works presented in this collection take environmental scholarship in South Asia into novel territory by exploring how questions of national identity become entangled with environmental concerns in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and India. The essays provide insight into the motivations of colonial and national governments in controlling or managing nature, and bring into fresh perspective the different kinds of regional political conflicts that invoke nationalist sentiment through claims on nature. In doing all this, the volume also offers new ways to think about nationalism and, more specifically, nationalism in South Asia from the vantage point of interdisciplinary environmental studies.
The contributors to this innovative volume show that manifestations of nationalism have long and complex histories in South Asia. Terrestrial entities, imagined in terms of dense ecological networks of relationships, have often been the space or reference point for national aspirations, as shared memories of Mother Nature or appropriated economic, political, and religious geographies. In recent times, different groups in South Asia have claimed and appropriated ancient landscapes and territories for the purpose of locating and justifying a specific and utopian version of nation by linking its origin to their nature-mediated attachments to these landscapes. The topics covered include forests, agriculture, marine fisheries, parks, sacred landscapes, property rights, trade, and economic development.