Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dan Jorgensen


In 2006, over fifty thousand people in the Phulbari Sub-District of Bangladesh mobilized against an open-pit coal mining-project that posed serious environmental and social risks. The state authorities negotiated with the protesters intensively over four days to reach an agreement. However, the state failed to fulfill the agreement, and the protest movement continued. The agrarian communities successfully halted the mining project for the last nine years. My research aims to understand how the protesters resisted this project. My objectives have been to explore the practices of a grassroots movement, attendant transformations in the sociopolitical landscape and role of the state in a place of uprising. In addition to the Bangalee villagers, two types of stakeholders have played crucial roles in the movement: the indigenous Santals and the migrants. I have used an ethnographic approach to establish an account of the protests as viewed by rural villagers. My hope is that this research has the potential to illuminate how natural resources are contested sources of livelihood and identity and how the quest for capitalist modernity through revenue-based economic growth may threaten destruction of ecosystems, human rights violations and social injustice.