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Investigating the Waterfront: The Entangled Sociomaterial Transformations of Coastal Space in Karnataka, India

Journal article
Authors Alin Kadfak
Per Knutsson
Published in Society & Natural Resources
Volume 30
Issue 6
Pages 707-722
ISSN 0894-1920
Publication year 2017
Published at School of Global Studies
Pages 707-722
Language en
Keywords Assemblage; coastal transformation; livelihoods; material and social instability; small-scale fisheries; waterfront
Subject categories Other Social Sciences, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


Triggered by urbanization and changing land use, coastal transformation is a rapidly increasing phenomenon in the global south, driving dramatic livelihoods impacts. However, the existing literature on small-scale fisheries (SSF) has paid little attention to the way coastal transformations shape conditions for SSF communities. This study proposes a new orientation in SSF studies by exploring the assemblage of entangled sociomaterial processes that account for coastal transformations by investigating waterfront transformation in a fishing community in Karnataka, India. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, we conclude that an entanglement of sociomaterial processes produces unequal outcomes among stakeholders that subsequently reinforce the political and economic marginalization of certain groups of waterfront users. Moreover, the investigated context-specific waterfront assemblage intimately connects to the broader context of national fishery policy, urbanization, and tourism, directing the way coastal space can and should be transformed. Such an analysis contributes to the understanding of changing livelihoods in SSF communities.

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