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Dancing with the RiverPeople and Life on the Chars of South Asia$
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Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Gopa Samanta

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300188301

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300188301.001.0001

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Introducing Chars Where Lands Float on Water

Introducing Chars Where Lands Float on Water

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Introducing Chars Where Lands Float on Water
Source:
Dancing with the River
Author(s):

James C. Scott

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300188301.003.0001

This chapter focuses on the chars as hybrid environments, uniquely fluid environments where the demarcation between land and water is neither well defined nor permanent. The hybrid environments of chars offer real-life examples that challenge a number of naturalized concepts and categories. Chars are also quintessentially hybrid because the distinction between the boundaries of land and water is not clear. Within the Gangetic plains, the main focus is on the Bengal delta, and specifically the bagri, or the western part of the delta. Under the microscope of examination are the chars rising out of the bed of the Damodar River in its lower basin. Related closely to the history of river control is the story of how the Damodar chars came to be settled, a process that began in the late nineteenth century, when groups of Muslim fishermen migrated from Bihar to those riverine locations.

Keywords:   hybrid environments, chars, Bengal delta, bagri, Damodar River, river control

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