Fixity of Water, Fluidity of Soil: Perspective of the Brahmaputra Dwellers

Saad Quasem, PhD Candidate (Anthropology)

My research studies continuity and discontinuity amongst the inhabitants of char areas on the Kurigram District tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh. Chars or river islands form, deform and change shape along with the movement of the river. For Chardwellers continuity and discontinuity forges an idea of place consisting of the diametric fixity of the river and fluidity of the soil which typifies the organization of their everyday lives. To illustrate this unique setting my study focuses on five key contexts of everyday life lived by Chardwellers: the local idea of weather and time, maritime knowledge, land settlement patterns, place-naming, and negotiations with the state. As the planet faces the challenge of facing unprecedented geomorphic changes, the findings of this study, I hope, shall challenge the predominant scientific imaginaries of “land and “water” as fixed categories and draw out the manner in which land and water constitute the ‘so much more.’