Human Displacement and Cultural Clash in Kamala Markandaya’s Novel The Coffer Dams (1969)


  • Ajmeera Saida


Kamala Markandaya’s novel The Coffer Dams (1969) focuses on human displacement as a major concern during the construction of dams. The proposals of the states for building huge multi-purpose projects often offer confrontation to nature and the inhabitants of the forests that are going to be submerged. Most of the time the negotiations between the states and the inhabitants, especially Adivasis, are met with violence if the Adivasis are reluctant to be rehabilitated to the new places. Due to their emotional attachment to forests and reluctance to relocate in the hustle-bustle towns, they usually question or confront the states. Since the states are powerful institutions, they can quickly suppress the voices or retaliations of the tribal groups. The Coffer Dams is one such novel based on an intense socio-cultural background that describes the confrontation between the authority of state and tribal groups, and the clash of western values with the traditional values of the indigenous groups in a south Indian region.