Pranav Menon header rangoli

Pranav Menon: Bottom-up Forest Mapping with the Van Gujjars in India

GIS community practices land rights land use mapping

In this Smart Forests Radio episode, we speak with Pranav Menon, a PhD researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, about the politics surrounding forest-dwelling communities, forest commons, and digital technologies in India. Pranav focuses on his engagement with the Van Gujjars, a pastoral community experiencing discrimination, on forest claims made through bottom-up mapping practices. Through ethnographic research combined with a handheld GPS eTrex device, he explores ways to generate different imaginations of forest space rooted in pastoralists’ language and life, which can challenge the state’s hierarchisation of land and people. Despite their insurgent possibilities, Pranav also notes that technologies such as GIS might impact the way the pastoral communities perceive and use space, potentially undermining their traditional way of living.

Interviewers: Trishant Simlai and Kate Lewis Hood

Producer: Harry Murdoch

Listen on Apple and Spotify.

This radio episode was produced by the Smart Forests project funded by the European Research Council. Smart Forests is led by Professor Jennifer Gabrys and is based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

Header image: Members of the Van Gujarrs are drawing a map using rangoli (coloured powder), a different way of imagining place and space, 2022. Image source: Pranav Menon.

Smart Forests Atlas materials are free to use for non-commercial purposes (with attribution) under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. To cite this radio episode: Menon, Pranav, Trishant Simlai, and Kate Lewis Hood "Pranav Menon: Bottom-up Forest Mapping with the Van Gujjars in India", Smart Forests Atlas (2024), https://atlas.smartforests.net/en/radio/pranav-menon. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10687309.

smart forests radio
Pranav Menon header rangoli