On the Banks of the Ganga: When Wastewater Meets a Sacred River / Edition 1

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Overview


In this rich ethnographic study, Kelly D. Alley sheds light on debates about water uses, wastewater management, and the meanings of waste and sacred power. On the Banks of the Ganga analyzes the human predicaments that result from the accumulation and disposal of waste by tracing how citizens of India interpret the impact of wastewater flows on a sacred river and on their own cultural practices.

Alley investigates ethno-semantic, discursive, and institutional data to flesh out the interplay between religious, scientific, and official discourses about the river Ganga. Using a new outward layering methodology, she points out that anthropological analysis must separate the historical and discursive strands of the debates concerning waste and sacred purity in order to reveal the cultural complexities that surround the Ganga. Ultimately, she addresses a deeply rooted cultural paradox: if the Ganga river is considered sacred by Hindus across India, then why do the people allow it to become polluted?

Examining areas of contemporary concern such as water usage and urban waste management in the most populated river basin in the world, this book will appeal to anthropologists and readers in religious, environmental, and Asian studies, as well as geography and law.

Kelly D. Alley is Associate Professor and Director of Anthropology at Auburn University. In addition to being a prolific writer, she has conducted research on public culture and environmental issues in northern India for over a decade. Alley is currently overseeing a project to ameliorate river pollution problems in India.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472068081
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 12/3/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Field Methods and Layers of Data 1
1 Contours of the Geographic, Cultural, and Theoretical Fields 17
2 The Polyvalency of Purity and Pollution 36
3 The Power of Ganga 50
4 Sacred Purity and Uncleanness 75
5 Purity and Flow 106
6 Defilement and Fouling in Colonial Law 121
7 Pollution and the Emergence of Judicial Activism 140
8 The Institutions of Wastewater Management 155
9 Contesting Water Quality and Mapping Wastewater 180
10 Transcendence and Immanence 207
11 Conclusion: Toward a Paradigm of Discourses and Powers 232
Notes 249
Glossary 265
Bibliography 267
Index 293
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