Praneeta Mudaliar, Assistant Professor (ENVS) presents at the International Association for the Study of the Commons

By Cheryl Smith, September 17, 2021


Praneeta Mudliar, ENVS and co-author, Dr. Shruti Mokashi (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bangalore, India) presented their research titled Supernatural Institutions and Ostrom’s Design Principles: A Gendered Analysis of Sacred Grove Conservation in Maharashtra, India at the Forest and Land Commons Virtual Conference for the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC), organized by the Arizona State University. While the scientific community is increasingly taking note of the importance of Indigenous knowledge systems for equitable and inclusive conservation, the research argues that these narratives increasingly characterize Indigenous communities and local culture as static and unchanging, and the sites that they manage as pristine. The research, based on fieldwork with Indigenous communities in the Western Ghats of India critically examines the contestations and micro socio-cultural politics of supernatural institutions such as taboos, beliefs, rituals, fairy tales, legends, and cultural practices through which sacred groves are sustained or degraded. Findings suggest that while the sacred groves continue thriving, supernatural institutions prevent Indigenous women from accessing and managing these groves, suggesting that patriarchal gender norms influence and shape supernatural institutions. Praneeta served as the chair, moderator, and discussant for the panel.