Kashwan, Prakash

Kashwan, Prakash
University of Connecticut

My research and teaching interests reside primarily in the area of environmental politics and policy, with a particular emphasis on the politics of access to, and control over natural resources. I employ theories of institutional analysis and power to investigate the politics related to international and national environmental policies and programs. Building on a long-standing engagement with questions of resource rights and contestation over natural resources, I am developing a political economy of institutions approach to explain and theorize institutional change in India’s forest property rights. I am also developing a long-term research program focusing on the politics of international environmental policy related to climate change.

In my doctoral dissertation (Indiana University, Bloomington 2011), titled ‘Democracy in the Woods’: Property Rights in India’s Forests and Forestlands, I explored how social and political institutions (i.e. the rules, norms, and conventions in use), and regional political contexts, mediate institutional change. In analyzing the responses of the key actors, in particular the members and groups within forest dependent communities, public officials, and the elected leaders, I seek to understand the past, present, and future life of institutions. I seek to explain how institutions are understood and engaged by these actors within a context of widespread state-society and intra-community power asymmetries. The dissertation project employed a controlled comparison research design and mixed-methods research to investigate the ongoing policy reforms in Western India.

The research and academic endeavors described above are closely related to my professional engagements prior to entering the academia. Between the first graduate degree in Forestry Management I received in 1999 and joining the graduate school at Indiana University in 2005, I had an intense and critical engagement with natural resource management policies and programs in South Asia. This engagement included working as part of civil society attempts at facilitating local, regional, and national institutional arrangements aimed at participatory natural resource management. I am also associated or affiliated with a number of civil society organizations in India and the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Research Program in the USA. At UConn I am affiliated with the Center for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), and the Economic and Social Rights Group (ESRG), each of which bring together faculty colleagues and students from a variety of disciplines. I keenly look forward to future collaborations with fellow academics, students, and practitioners.