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Workshop on Interrogating Natures: Imaginations and Possibilities of the Future by Sambhaavnaa Institute, Himachal Pradesh [April 11-16]: Register now!

The Workshop on Interrogating Natures: Imaginations and Possibilities of the Future is organized by Sambhaavnaa Institute, Himachal Pradesh from April 11-16, 2022.

About the Workshop

It is an inevitable conclusion of this era that ‘natures’ are perceived essentially as a resource base, and that their overuse has led human society to its own peril. In this workshop, we explore and interrogate natures – within and without.

They ask, in this workshop, if it is possible to live in the world without treating natures as bases of resources entirely for our use and consumption. They explore some of the ways in which natures are social, political, and contextual. Each nature-related social idea and strategy arises from a vast array of social institutions, cultural scripts and political conditions.

These conditions train humans to live in and with nature in diverse ways. They explore such ideas and strategies about ‘nature’, including ways in which indigenous communities from across the globe give us examples of living without separation from nature.

Finally, they ask if the capitalist wisdom on the use of nature – primarily as a resource – can be imagined out of our nature/culture toolkit.

Learning Objectives

This workshop uses regular reading to shape participants’ facility with a wide variety of academic, popular, and policy discourses. 

In so doing, the aims of this course are:

  1. To make participants understand diverse, often conflicting logics of use, abuse, protection and restoration of natural resources. These logics often emanate from social and cultural locations of ethnicity, religion, community and so on, while being entrenched in the domains of global, national and local politics and flows of capital.  
  2. To show connections between themes as divergent as the politics of scientific knowledge, expert-rule for environmental governance, and the memory, history and poetics of landscape. 
  3. To prepare the ground for participants to begin interrogating the terms of environmental debates that will eventually shape imaginations and possibilities of the future, as well as determine the directions of resource allocation, across developed and developing nations. 
  4. To crucially prepare participants towards taking nuanced stances on the current crises, debates and discourses on environment, as driven by media, governments and expert organizations, especially in facilitating conversations between local actors and national and supranational organizations.

Structure and Pedagogy

This workshop will be conducted over six days. Each of the first five days will consist of a three-hour taught session followed by a movie screening in the afternoon (post-lunch) for the first four days. The after-dinner time is meant as reading time in preparation for the next day’s workshop.

The last afternoon and evening will be allocated for participants to prepare presentations of their own vision statements.

The sixth day will feature presentations of vision statements by participants and end with a feedback session. The workshop will consist of a fieldwork component, details of which will be explained on the first day. There will also be exercises and group discussions during the workshop.

Each participant will be paired with another to read together and present their vision statements at the end. The presentations may be done separately but should be prepared in consultation with each other.

The details of the readings and films are given below (Selected pages from the readings will be provided closer to the workshop):

1Ann Gold & Bhoju Ram Gujjar, In the Time of Trees and Sorrows (2002). TBA
2Ram Guha and Madhav Gadgil, This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India  (1992)TBA
3Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature & Culture (2013TBA
4Ashish Kothari et al, Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary (2019)TBA
5Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think (2013)


This workshop will be attractive to anyone thinking with and about natures in their professional or personal life. It will attract students in university, activists, development practitioners, persons involved in ecologically-rooted social movements, and members of the general public.

Ground Rules:

  1. All participants must respect the premises and the ambience of the Sambhaavnaa Institute.
  2. All participants must attend the entire workshop.
  3. All participants must read the materials to the best of their ability.
  4. All participants must treat each other with respect.
  5. The workshop is a safe space. All participants must respect each other’s freedom of expression, and respect boundaries wherever appropriate. 

Bios of Facilitators

Dr. Atreyee Majumder is an anthropologist. She teaches sociology at the National Law School of India University. She has a doctorate in sociocultural anthropology from Yale University. Her first monograph Time, Space, and Capital in India (Routledge, 2018) gives expression to her interest in the categories of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘space’ and their mutual imbrications.

Her research is geared primarily towards interrogating how capital and the modern sovereign align, and how this nexus expresses itself in space. She has consistently published scholarly articles and has written in popular venues, on these issues.

She also conducts workshops on ethnographic methods for activists and members of the general public. One of these workshops was with the slum youth of Mumbai in order to equip them to conduct research in their neighborhoods.

She is now researching the competing sovereignties between the Hindu God Krishna and the Indian nation-state in the pilgrimage sites in and around Vrindavan (known as the Braj region) in northern India. She is also a published poet and dabbles in the violin.

Abhayraj Naik is an activist-academic, community builder, and design hacker for transformative change. His work focuses on education, the environment, ethics, cities, and technology. Abhayraj is a co-founder of the Initiative for Climate Action (www​.action​cli​mate​.org), which is a Bangalore-headquartered non-profit organization devoted to transformative climate action.

At Azim Premji University, he teaches interdisciplinary courses on climate, environment, justice, law, policy, and research methods at a number of universities across India.

He has published widely on issues in environmental law and policy, regulation theory and implementation, climate change, mobility rights, social justice, etc. He holds degrees from the National Law School of India University and Yale Law School.

How to Register?

Interested attendees can register for the workshop through this link.

Participant Contribution

We hope that participants would contribute an amount of Rs. 5500/- towards workshop expenses, inclusive of all on-site workshop costs: boarding, lodging, and all the materials used in the workshop. Travel of participants will have to be borne by the organization/the participants.

Click here to view the official notification for the Workshop on Interrogating Natures.


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