Project Description :
This research project examines how government policies with regard to coastal development have transformed the physical, ecological and social character of coastal areas in India and select European countries and how this has impacted the wellbeing of fishing communities, who are historically the main coastal inhabitants.
While the modernization of fisheries that occurred in the past decades was aimed at economic progress, it also resulted in damage to marine ecosystems, to inequality and social conflict. Similarly, policies towards the end of the 20th century aimed at promoting industrial development and tourism threatened fishers by laying claim to coastal lands and polluting the seas they fish in. We investigate this story of coastal transformation through a number of thematic work packages.
First, we geospatially map the institutional and socioecological changes that have occurred in two Indian case study sites on the east and west coasts and supplement this with more coarse analyses of coastal transformation in UK, France, Norway and Slovenia.
Second, we focus on specific transformations, namely the technical modernization of fisheries, the industrialization of the coast and the promotion of tourism and cultural heritage.
Third, we explore how fishers’ wellbeing is affected and how they respond to coastal transformations, either through resistance or livelihood migration. We also examine how they tell their histories of transformation and imagine their futures. The results of these focused studies are finally synthesized and inserted into the geospatial database.
The project takes a political ecology approach that focuses on the winners and losers of coastal transformation. We define wellbeing as: “a state of being with others, which arises where human needs are met, where one can act meaningfully (through relations with others) to pursue one’s goals, and where one can enjoy a satisfactory quality of life” (McGregor 2007). Wellbeing is understood to include three dimensions: (a) material wellbeing (livelihoods in present and imagined futures); (b) relational wellbeing (with a focus on equality across genders and generations within fishing communities, and vis-à-vis external actors); and (c) subjective wellbeing (perceptions thereof). As fishers depend on common pool marine resources, the degradation and ineffective governance of these resources is a factor influencing all three dimensions hereof. Our research is quantitative and qualitative and is ultimately aimed at seeking insights into individual, household and community responses to coastal transformation and short-term actions and strategic investments, both individually and collectively.
Main or Expected outputs :
The research is expected to produce a range of outputs, both academic and non-academic. Apart from a series of journal publications, we will produce research and policy briefs to be shared with global and national policy-makers. Core sections of an interactive coastal web mapping will be produced in the case of India for sharing with civil society and NGO actors, fisher organizations and policy-makers. A mobile exhibition “Heritage for Future Fisheries” will be curated, traveling to four fieldwork locations (2 in India, 1 in Slovenia and 1 in the UK). As noted in the pathways to impact, this exhibition will set up collaborative dialogues with a range of stakeholders. We will also produce a set of articles and blogs for popular media across the five countries.