Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David Harvey

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies


Goa, infrastructure, rights to land and resources, social movements, Special Economic Zones, urbanization


The Special Economic Zones Act 2005, a critical infrastructure model, was enacted in India in two days amid total political consensus. Within two years, intense conflicts over land and resources erupted in SEZ areas across the country between corporate developers, the state, and peasants' and citizens' groups. In the ensuing furor, several SEZs foundered and Goa state unprecedentedly revoked its SEZ policy, suspending 15 SEZs, some with construction underway. Amid raging debates and accusations of corrupt real estate deals over SEZs and other "infrastructure" and urbanization investments, the central (federal) government attempted to redraft land acquisition policy, eventually enacting a new law in 2013. This legal anthropological study of land and resource conflicts over "growth infrastructures" and urbanization in India examines the emergent Indian jurisprudence around land and resources; the policy genesis and evolution of Indian SEZs; the growth of India's real estate economy; and successful peasant and citizens' resistance to "infrastructure" and urbanization policies in Goa. Using ethnographic and archival research, it contributes to anthropological studies of law as process, and law contextualized in its broader social setting. It locates conflicts over land and resources challenging "state sovereignty" and capital accumulation at the center of India's economic growth story. It analyzes contemporary processes of capital accumulation, relationships with land and resources, social movements, and negotiations of "citizenship" and "the state" refashioning the "rule of law" in India's liberal democracy. It concludes that India's growth is unfolding with recurrent conditions of "impasse" and resistance. Contradictory policy and legal provisions, interests within the state, and oppositional social alliances have reopened a fundamental historical impasse over relationships with land and resources that underlines how critical access to land and resources are to a large number of people. It argues for a legal framework for land- and resource-use that is locally determined, egalitarian and ecologically appropriate as a tool towards ushering a fundamental "reconstitution from below."