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The relationship between land and the state is co-productive. As the state makes the land, it is also shaped by this land-making in turn. In the recent history of the global South, land-making as state-making implicated the colonial state. This state controlled land and made the inhabitants of the land its subjects. Later, the postcolonial modernizing state sought to transform land in keeping with its developmental vision, in tandem with societal elites. The elite appropriation of the development project was furthered under economic liberalization, with global capital being promoted in zoned development on once-sovereign land. Yet, land-making as state-making cannot be read only from the perspective of the formal, high state. Thus, the chapter also highlights land-making as state-making from below. It shows aspirational intermediaries in land inserting themselves in contemporary land-making projects in field sites in western India. In the process, these middlemen who are on the edges of informalized authority broaden the domains of the state, and also of access to land. They assert their subjecthood through the continual making and re-making of the socially embedded state via multi-dimensional land. Amid the climate crisis, this is an argument for appreciating mutuality between humans and nature across space, scales, and time.

Original publication





Book title

Oxford Handbook of Land Politics


Oxford University Press

Publication Date



state authority, multi-dimensional land, India, land-making, relational perspective, state-making, global South