The seafood economy along the Bay of Bengal on the eastern coast of South India has seen the recent emergence and expansion of intensive forms of shrimp aquaculture contributing to an export economy. The development of this economy can be seen as a manifestation of a socio-ecological fix, in response to the crisis of dwindling fisheries ocean stock and failing agriculture in the coastal economy. Yet, the disease-ridden nature of shrimp farming and the intensely polluting effects have resulted in severe political contestations, complicating a narrative of capitalist accumulation. These differences beg attention to how the materiality of the disease and the toxins lead to specific forms of politics and the transformation of socio-natures. This project aims to address these questions.
My research seeks to trace the place-specific history of the expansion of shrimp aquaculture and its local effects in coastal Tamil Nadu. Using a mixed-methods approach and political ecology lens, my project seeks to investigate the following questions: i) What confluence of factors at different scales has led to the expansion of shrimp aquaculture? ii) How does the practice of shrimp farming transform human organization and conflict as well as non-human natures? iii) Can the diseased and intensely polluting nature of shrimp farming contribute to openings that can be exploited towards radical politics?