Invisible Labor: Adivasi Workers in the History of South Indian Forest Conservation


In South India’s forest, the repercussions of colonialism, extraction-oriented state control of forest resources, and the more recent history of forest governance, law, and conservation have formed human-environment relationships at the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. At the same time, forest governance in Wayanad has been built on the expertise and physical hardships of low-wage Adivasi laborers. This paper argues that the exploitation of their cheap manual labor and the appropriation of their indigenous environmental knowledge has enabled and equally influenced environmental governance at the wildlife sanctuary since colonial times.