Water History

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 167–185 | Cite as

‘Majuli in Peril’: Challenging the received wisdom on flood control in Brahmaputra River Basin, Assam (1940–2000)

Article

Abstract

This paper seeks to provide a framework to understand the politics of flood control and representation of deluge ‘narrative’ by looking at Majuli—one of the largest freshwater river islands in the world, located in the upper Brahmaputra valley in Assam. Policy makers and state planner present simplistic explanation of flood and its resultant impact on the island habitable space, as a ‘techno-managerial’ crisis needing policy redemption through ‘experts’ intervention. I present the phenomenon of flooding as a ‘techno-political’ problem and examine the politics of knowledge production. The paper thus challenges the received wisdom on ecological change promoted by institutions who have been working to save the island from two perceived threats—floods and bank erosion. Through a synoptic survey on state measures to control flood in the Brahamapura River Basin since the 1950s, I will show how the ‘statist ecological discourse’ based on equilibrium and linear models underlined by a ‘command and control’ discourse have dominated policy making on flood mitigation- devaluing other perspectives of ecological change. These new revisionist directions in ecology and science policy discourse bring important insights to understand the phenomena of floods from the multiple pathways of an ecological change paradigm and the ways they are mitigated and perceived.

Keywords

Flood Indigenous knowledge Equilibrium Command Control Narrative Technomanagerism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Classics and ArchaeologyBirkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK

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