1997 volume 29(12) pages 2145 – 2164

Cite as:
Corbridge S, Jewitt S, 1997, "From forest struggles to forest citizens? Joint Forest Management in the unquiet woods of India's Jharkhand" Environment and Planning A 29(12) 2145 – 2164

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From forest struggles to forest citizens? Joint Forest Management in the unquiet woods of India's Jharkhand

S Corbridge, S Jewitt

Received 13 February 1997; in revised form 20 May 1997

Abstract. The government of India has embraced joint forest management as a key strategy for dealing with forest degradation and forest employment issues in the 1990s. This represents a significant movement away from the forest reservation policies that held sway from 1947 to 1988 and which criminalised many local forest users. In this paper we consider the role played by forest struggles and forest intellectuals (notably Guha and Gadgil) in the rewriting of India's forest policies. We also evaluate the utility of a moral economy framework in guiding joint forest management policies in India's Jharkhand. We draw on village-level fieldwork in Ranchi District, Bihar, to highlight the value of an approach to the management of Degraded Protected Forests that offers a key role to active and informed forest citizens (as per the moral economy framework). We also highlight five areas of present concern: the extent of local environmental knowledges, not least among women; questions of territoriality and excludeability in respect of forest protection activities; trust, imagined communities, and forest citizenship; the role of charismatic leaders; and the importance of complementary 'nonforest' policies.

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