Special Economic Zones: National Land Challenges, Localized Protest

Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Studies



Publication Title

Contemporary South Asia


Acquisition of land and reallocation of previously acquired land for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) has stimulated protests that provide a terrain for exploring the changing landscape of contestation in the liberalizing political economy of India. Social movements, organizations, and communities resist the land, development, and sovereignty implications of SEZs. Although there are common concerns, efforts to co-organize protests on a national or regional scale have proved difficult. In place of nationwide narratives critiquing the model, anti-SEZ resistance predominantly reflects localized interpretations. The parochial nature of resistance to date is a product of diverse opinions on preferred outcomes, regional, or local viewings of the state, particular political dynamics, and the range of actors involved in SEZ struggles. I argue that the state is not a monolithic entity, but rather the anti-SEZ struggles view and make demands upon distinct levels of or individuals within the state. In developing this position, I explore the localization of SEZ struggles in Goa, India, examine the dynamics of resistance at the state level, and address political opportunities that emerge in the context of protest. The state's recent electoral change provides a chance to reflect further on the shifting ‘state’ target for political protest.


Published as:
Bedi, Heather P. "Special Economic Zones: National Land Challenges, Localized Protest." Contemporary South Asia 21, no. 1 (2013): 38-51.

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