Dissertation Defense -- Samayita Bandyopadhyay


PhD Candidate Samayita Bandyopadhyay will defend her dissertation, "Land-Use/Land-Cover Change and Vulnerability to Landslides in Kurseong, Darjeeling Himalayas, India" on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 2 PM CST via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4623388615?pwd=TnBFNm5pdktNSzB1N3B1Tzg3WE5SUT09

Meeting ID: 462 338 8615

Passcode: 403503

Abstract: This three-article dissertation (TAD) examines the drivers and impacts of Land-use/land-cover Change (LULCC) on the social-ecological system (SES) in a Himalayan region, prone to landslide disasters. The study region Kurseong, is a district subdivision in eastern India, and is home to agrarian communities working in tea plantations and smallholdings. Theoretically grounded in Land System Science (LSS), Disaster research and Political Ecology (PE), this study employs remote sensing, archival and ethnographic research methods. Article one identifies LULCC subjected to landslides from 1988 to 2019, and explores their proximate and underlying drivers. Article two computes local vulnerabilities by adopting a multidimensional livelihood vulnerability index (MLVI) framework, and analyzes using PE, why vulnerabilities continue to exist. Article three illustrates farmer adaptations to a postcolonial agricultural system, their vulnerabilities and resilience, with limited entitlements and resource access. The GIS and Remote Sensing analyses show an increase in forest-cover from 1988 to 2019 (45 – 54%), and decrease in total landslide area (225.54 – 162.56 ha). However, landslide vulnerabilities intensified in heavily settled and deforested areas, inferring a more complex influence of broad land changes at local levels. The MLVI in selected areas further shows farming communities to be multidimensionally vulnerable to several socio-economic stressors. Finally, a decolonized PE approach tracks the historical roots of present-day infrastructural constraints, limited socio-economic capitals, and disaster-management. Adaptations to such SES are both sustainable and maladaptive, and defined as ‘clumsy solutions to wicked problems.’  The frameworks employed in this research brings together multiple paradigms and research methods, contributing to Global Environmental Change research.