A microhistory of a mass mobilisation: Peasant agency and solidarity in the 1990 anti-shrimp movement of polder 22, Khulna
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Karunamoyee Sarder was killed in November, 1990 while leading a protest against shrimp aquaculture in Polder 22 of Paikgacha, Khulna, Bangladesh. Karunamoyee and other landless protestors were attacked with guns and bombs by goons hired by a local shrimp farm owner. Following her murder, the continued mobilisation of the peasants of Polder 22 evolved into a mass movement against shrimp aquaculture. To date Polder 22 has remained a shrimp-free zone and thousands of peasants continue to gather each year to commemorate her as a martyr. Using oral and textual sources, this microhistory of the movement highlights the complexities of peasant agency and solidarity, aspirations and motivations, that constitute their initial act of resistance. It also demonstrates how wider alliances with political parties and civil society organisations, within the specific context of 1990s Bangladesh, propelled the local resistance into a mass movement. Through these, it explores how Karunamoyee and the movement have today become symbols embodying peasant rights and struggles beyond the immediate context of the movement for the people of Polder 22.