The idea for this book came into being when Arun Agrawal was a fel-
low at the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University
and K. Sivaramakrishnan was finishing his Ph.D. thesis in the Department
of Anthropology at Yale. Two panels of papers on related themes at the
Association for Asian Studies meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii, in spring
and at the South Asian Studies meetings in Wisconsin in fall
acted as preliminary meetings where we crystallized the idea of this vol-
ume. We thank all the panel participants and the audience members for
their instructive comments and stimulating ideas. We especially acknowl-
edge Akhil Gupta's contribution in an early stage of the project.
We didn't know it when we first started talking about the book, but
K. Sivaramakrishnan was himself about to become a program fellow in
Surely the program can be considered to have sired the book,
and not just because both the editors have been program fellows. We also
received a timely and generous conference grant from the program. It al-
lowed most of the authors to come together for a small workshop in May
to discuss the individual papers and meet their discussants. Two of the
contributions from the discussants appear at the end of the book. Our spe-
cial thanks go to David Ludden, John Richards, and Ajay Skaria, who not
only provided rich and thought-provoking commentaries on the papers at
the workshop but also crafred their critiques in such a way as to have an
independent force related to the idea of agrarian environments.
During the discussions in the workshop we also realized how the reifi-
cation of social identities related to hwnan-nature relationships is itself a
product of the separation of the agrarian and the environmental as indepen-
dent domains. In this sense, the chief argwnent of this volume is without
doubt a collective inspiration. All the authors in the volume must share in
the praise. Nor do we absolve them of any criticisms of the ideas in it; those
who are party to collective inspirations must also share the burden of well-
founded criticisms. For additional comments on the introduction to the
volume, we would like to thank Clark Gibson, Tania Li, Donald Moore,
and Ramachandra Guha. We would also like to thank the three anonymous
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