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Dhirendra Datt Dangwal

Associate Professor

PhD in History, Jawaharlal Nehru University

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School of Liberal Studies

Education & Research


Dr Dangwal’s research interest is on environmental history. He did his MPhil and PhD from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His PhD traced socio-environmental transformation in the Himalayan region. Himalayan societies have been considerably transformed in the last two centuries. Much of this transformation is a result of reshaping of physical environment. Some of the issues he is interested in are: forest policies and their impact on village communities, scientific forestry and sustainable management of forests, deforestation, community rights over common land and forests, changing practices of nomadic pastoralism, and changes in patterns of resource use.


Past Employment

Before joining Ambedkar University as Associate Professor in March 2011 Dr Dangwal taught in Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, for more than 8 years. It involved post-graduate teaching and guiding research. Prior to that he was Junior Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti, New Delhi. He also worked as a fellow in the National Institute for Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi (1996-1999).



Book: The Himalayan Degradation: Colonial Forestry and Environmental Change in India, published by Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd. Delhi (Foundation Book Imprint), 2009.


Project Report: ‘Scientific Forestry and Sustainable Management of Forests in India: Myth and Reality’ submitted to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti, New Delhi, in 2004.


Research Papers:

  • ‘Diverse Livelihood Strategies and the Changing Economy of Colonial Uttarakhand’, in Chetan Singh, ed., Recognizing Himalayan Diversity: Society and Culture in the Himalaya, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010.
  • ‘The Lost Mobility: Pastoralism and Modernity in the Uttarakhand Himalaya’, in Nomadic People, 2009.
  •  ‘Deforestation in Uttaranchal in Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries’, Current Conservation, 2, 1 (January 2008).
  • ‘Commercialisation of Forests, Timber Extraction, and Deforestation in Uttarakhand, 1815-1947’, in Conservation and Society, 3, 1 (2005), pp. 110-33.
  • 'Scientific Forestry and Forest Management in Colonial and Post-Colonial India' in Contemporary India, 1, 1 (2002), pp. 153-69.
  •  'Deforestation and Land Cover Changes in the Central Himalayas' in Y. P. Abrol, M. K. Tiwari, and Satpal Sangwan, eds, Land Use- Historical Perspective: Focus on Indo-Gangetic Plain, Allied Publisher, Delhi, 2000, pp. 277-99.
  • `Forests, Farms and Peasants: Agrarian Economy and Ecological Change in the U.P. Hills, 1815-1947', in Studies in History, 14, 2 (1998), pp. 349-71.
  • ’State, Forests and Graziers in the Hills of Uttar Pradesh: Impact of Colonial Forestry on Peasants, Gujars and Bhotiyas’ in Indian Economic and Social History Review, 34, 4 (1997), pp. 403-35.
  • Occasional Paper: Colonial Forestry and Deforestation in the U.P. Hills, 1815 to 1947, Occasional Paper no. LVIII, (1999), Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.


Book Reviews:

  • Sanjay Joshi, ed., The Middle Class in Colonial India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2010, in The Book Review, vol. XXXV, no. 9 (September 2010)
  • Aniket Alam, Becoming India: Western Himalaya Under British Rule, Cambridge University Press India Ltd., Delhi, 2008, in The Book Review, vol XXXIII, no 9 (September 2008)
  • Edward L. Webb and Ganesh P. Shivakoti, Decentralization, Forests and Rural Communities: Policy Outcomes in South and Southeast Asia, Sage, Delhi, 2008, in The Book Review, vol XXXIII, no 6 (June 2008)
  • Peter Robb, Peasants, Political Economy, and Law, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2007, in Historia Agraria (Spanish), vol no. 44 (April 2008).
  • Sudha Vasan, Living With Diversity: Forestry Institutions in the Western Himalaya, IIAS, Shimla, 2006 in Summerhill Review of IIAS, 2006.
  • Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Water: Perspectives, Issues, Concerns, Sage Publication, New Delhi, 2003, in Science, Technology and Society, 11, 2 (2006).
  • Haripriya Rangan, Of Myths and Movements: Rewriting Chipko in the Himalayan History, OUP, Delhi, 2001 (First Published by Verso, London, 2000), in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 38, no. 31 (August, 2-8, 2003)
  • Eva Cheung Robinson, Greening at the Grassroots: Alternative Forestry Strategies in India, Sage, Delhi, 1998, in Science, Technology, and Society, 5, 2 (2000).
  • Review of the film: ‘On the Fence- Revisiting the Chipko Movement’ by Pramod and Neelima Mathur, in India International Centre Diary, Vol. XII, No. 6 (November-December, 1998).
  • jointly with Prof. B. D. Chattopadhyay: Richard Grove, Vinita Damodara and Satpal Sangwan (eds), Nature and the Orient: Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia, OUP, Delhi, 1998, in India International Centre Quarterly, Summer Issue 1998.
  • Mahesh Rangarajan, Fencing the Forests: Conservation and Ecological Change in India's Central Province 1860-1914, OUP, Delhi, 1996, in Studies in History, 13,1 (1997).

Selected Papers Presented in Seminars and Conferences:

  • A paper entitled ‘Wilderness to Urban Landscape: The Doon Valley in the Nineteenth Century’, was presented in a national workshop on ‘Environment, State and Society’, organised by the Department of History, Jadavpur University, Kolkota, on 1-2 March 2010.
  • A paper entitled ‘The Gujars, Forests and Pastures: Marginalisation of a Community in Uttarakhand’, was presented in a national workshop on ‘Social Justice and the Marginals: Theoretical and Methodological Concerns’, held at the Department of Sociology, Jammu University, Jammu, September 12-13, 2009.
  • A paper entitled ‘Wilderness to Urban Landscape: The Doon Valley in the Nineteenth Century’, was presented in a Symposia ‘Environmental Change in Uttar Pradesh’ in the U. P. History Congress 2009, held at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, V.B.S. Purvanchal University, Jaunpur (U.P.) on 3-4 October 2009.
  • A paper entitled ‘The Lost Mobility: Pastoralism and Modernity in Uttarakhand’ was presented in a session on ‘Pastoralism and Modernity’ in the World Economic History Conference’ held at the University of Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherland from August 3 to 7, 2009.
  • A paper entitled ‘The Lost Mobility: Pastoralism and Modernity in Uttarakhand’ was presented in an international seminar on ‘Pastoralism and Modernity in Asia’ organised by the ICIMOD, Kathmandu from January 7 to 9, 2009. (A preparatory conference for World Economic History Conference)
  •  Read a paper entitled ‘Ecology, Landscape and Livelihood Strategies: An Enquiry into the Changing Nature of the Economy in Colonial Uttarakhand’ in the ‘Conference on Himalayan Diversity’ organised by the Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Shimla, between April, 18-19, 2008.
  • A paper entitled ‘Appropriate Forestry Knowledge and the Training of Imperial Forest Service: Issues and Implications’ was presented in an international workshop on ‘Nature and the Raj’ held at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (sponsored by JNU and Sussex University) in Delhi on 18-19, August 2006.
  • ‘The Gujars and the Forests of the Uttarakhand Himalayas (India): A History of Social Inequality in Access to Forests and Pastures’ in the Fifth European Social Science History Conference (in the Social Inequality Session), held at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, March 24-27, 2004.
  • 'Colonialism, Arable Expansion and Environmental Change in the 19th Century Uttarakhand Himalayas (India)' in the 'International Conference on the Forest and Environmental History of the British Empire and Commonwealth' organised by the Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex, at Sussex, Brighton, UK, March, 19-21, 2003.
  •  A paper entitled 'Forestry, Science and Sustainability: The History of Forest Conservancy in India' in an 'International Seminar on Science, Technology, and Society', organised by the History Department of Punjab University, at Chandigarh, January 29-31, 2003.
  • A paper entitled 'Scientific Forestry and Sustainable Management of Forests in India: Myth and Reality' was presented in an 'International Seminar on the Environmental History of Asia' organised by the Zakir Husain Centre for Education JNU, New Delhi and the Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex UK, at JNU, Delhi, December 4-7, 2002.
  • `Changing Composition of Forests and Its Ecological Impact in the U.P. Hills 1860-1947’, in the 'National Seminar on Traditional Sciences and Ecological History' organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in Delhi, March, 27-29,1997.


Professionl Activities/Awards

Research in Progress:

Currently Dr Dangwal is working on urban environmental history of the Doon Valley, situated in the Siwalik hills of Uttarakhand Himalaya. He is interested in knowing how urban expansion, particularly in ecologically sensitive zones, affects natural environment. Some of the small towns are expanding rapidly in such zones. At the same time he is also interested in examining the role played by small towns historically. They represented the rural-urban frontier in the nineteenth century and often had intricate relationship with their hinterland. By examining history of city like Dehradun Dr Dangwal wishes to explore the role of small towns in the process of urbanization, modernization and social transformation in India.


Professional Distinctions/fellowships:

  • UGC Junior and Senior Research Fellowship.
  • Dr Dangwal has been engaged in peer review of research articles for the following journals:
  • Environmental Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press.
  • Conservation and Society, published by ATREE, Bangalore
  • Nomadic People, Berghahn Press, UK.

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