With this book Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Gopa Samanta offer an intimate glimpse into the microcosmic world of "hybrid environments." Focusing on chars-the part-land, part-water, low-lying sandy masses that exist within the riverbeds in the floodplains of lower Bengal-the authors show how, both as real-life examples and as metaphors, chars straddle the conventional categories of land and water, and how people who live on them fluctuate between legitimacy and illegitimacy. The result, a study of human habitation in the nebulous space between land and water, charts a new way of thinking about land, people, and people's ways of life.
Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt is a senior fellow in resource management in the Asia-Pacific Program at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. She lives in Canberra. Gopa Samanta is an associate professor in geography at the University of Burdwan. She lives in Golapbag, Burdwan, India.