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Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

A Hermeneutical Reinterpretation of Land: A case study from Indian Sundarbans 
Thu, Aug 09, 2018,   12:00 PM at Seminar Room 24 (Main Building)

Dr. Kalpita Paul
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay

Land ethics is one of the most prominent forms of environmental ethics and is being
conceptualized as a ground for attaining place-specific environmentally sustainable
practices. I take a hermeneutic approach to understand the primordial concept of land. The
departure point of this engagement is the statement: “land is a heart of crisis in Sundarbans”
that appears in CSE report, 2012. By taking into consideration the islanders’
phenomenological accounts of land, I demonstrate that they possess a broader understanding
of land—seen as a confluence of sea-land, shore-land, and land. Along with it, depending on
their daily engagements, their perceptions of each of these parts of land vary. This broader
conceptualization transcends the land/water dichotomy and the consequent crisis situation
that emerges from this rather restricting idea of land. In the light of these phenomenological
insights, I also critically engage with Leopold’s land ethic to embrace a broader notion of
land. In conclusion, I propose, more than land ethic or place-based ethic, place-specific
identification of environmental challenges and community-specific formulation of ethical
practices would delineate an efficacious way towards attaining a sustainable form
human—environment relationship which is indeed the need of the hour.

Dr. Kalpita Bhar Paul is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the department of Humanities and
Social Sciences, IIT Bombay. She holds a PhD in Environmental Humanities from Manipal
University. The title of her dissertation is Implication of the Phenomenological Study of the
Human—Environment Relationship for Environmental Ethics: Insights from the Sundarbans,
India. Her research interests encompass environmental ethics, phenomenology, Heidegger
and the environment, and engaged philosophy. She has widely published in international
journals such as Environmental Ethics, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics,
Ethics and the Environment, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, and Environment,
Space, Place, etc.