My book manuscript, The Energy State: Fossil Fuels and Political Power in Modern India, asks how a singular dependence on coal as the dominant energy resource of the nation shaped the politics of democracy and development in India during the twentieth century. Focusing on the environmental and technological remaking of India's eastern coal belt, my research documents how these areas came to be regarded as extreme examples of "developmental failure" under the postcolonial state, becoming marked by a politics of widespread corruption, anti-state violence, adibasi or first-nations secession movements, and state-sponsored paramilitaries. These political forms, I argue, were not aberrations external to postcolonial India's model of democratic development, but were indeed produced within specific configurations of law, science, and capital that provided the developmental state its most vital commodity: carbon energy. Tracking the formation of this social world of extraction from its origins in the global scramble for carbon resources during the late colonial period to the years of political crisis preceding India's coal nationalization in the 1970s, The Energy State recasts the making of postcolonial India as part of a deeper history of protracted conflicts to control the subcontinent’s subterranean wealth.

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