Ausgabe 8

Footloose Experts vs. Rooted Cosmopolitans

Biodiversity Conservation, Transnationalisation of Law and Conflict among Civil Society Actors in India

Seite 74
Shalini Randeria

This article seeks to differentiate between the political practices of two kinds of civil society actors: «footloose experts» and «rooted cosmopolitans», whose relationships to the state, to international organisations and to local communities differ markedly. Using field- work material on conflicts around biodiversity conservation and forced displacement as played out in a World Bank financed project in Gujarat (western India), the article contrasts these two political visions of world citizenship and the associated understandings of the interrelationship of nature and society. It is argued that civil society must be seen as a site of conflict between these two competing styles of cosmopolitanism. Through a focus on the entanglement of a plurality of legal orders (local, national and transnational) which these actors invoke to legitimate their respective claims, it is shown how the local is situated in global processes. Methodologically, a case is made for an empirical grounding of studies of globalisation by a «studying through» of discourses and practices from the local to the translocal level. Different kinds of cosmopolitan actors play a pivotal role as translators and middle-men in this process.