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Thresy Vallikappen

PhD Candidate

My research is centred on an agricultural region known as Kuttanad in the State of Keralam in South India. Here paddy is cultivated below sea level on lands reclaimed by inhabitants from the surrounding waterbodies. This makes the geography of the region unique and significant at this time of global climatic changes and sea level rise. Since the largescale land reclamations of the 19th and 20th centuries that transformed Kuttanad into a major rice producing tract in southwest India, the human induced alteration of this landscape has been extremely drastic that the inhabitants are now living confronting the consequences of human actions on the environment. Human actions altering the physical landscapes in Kuttanad are closely connected with the changes in the local social stratifications and the concept of 'development'. The aim of my research is to explore the transformation of the physical and social landscapes in Kuttanad, which is closely related to the political and economic dynamisms in Keralam, India and the rest of the world. By social landscape, I mean, the social composition, stratifications, relations and the complexities connected with the society. As the transformation of the physical and social landscapes in my study area is closely connected to the concept of 'development', the study also explore the question, what is 'development' in Kuttanad?