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Thresy Vallikappen

PhD Candidate

My research explores the internal and external movement of people through long-run historical period that resulted in the making and unmaking of Kuttanad, the ‘man-made’ granary of Kerala, in south-west India. Reclaimed from the surrounding water-bodies, the fertile landmass of Kuttanad had been 'created' by human effort for settlement and cultivation purposes. Large-scale reclamation activities from the early 19th century and the resultant rise of the agrarian region attracted extensive human migrations into the region from near and distant places. But from the late 20th century onwards outward migration of people began, and now, the inhabitants are increasingly moving out of Kuttanad to the neighbouring towns and abroad. With an anthropological perspective my study attempts to analyse the grounds of population mobility that resulted in the growth and decline in significance of this unique stretch of land, lying below sea-level in central Kerala. Setting the focus on the geogrpahical expanse known as Kuttanad, the study will explore the different meanings given to this land area by the diverse inhabitants. The shifts in the mind-set of the population and changes in their attitudes and attachments to the place will be traced by tracking the varying sense of place of those moving in and out of the region. An effort will be made to analyze the divergent forms in which the inhabitants embody themselves to mark their identity in the changing geographies of being.