Food from Sewage: Fish from the East Kolkata Wetlands and the Limits of Traditional Knowledge

Antonia Vicziany, Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, Somenath Bhattacharyya

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This multi-disciplinary paper brings together two bodies of evidence that, to our knowledge, have not before been combined: literature about the efficient functioning of the East Kolkata Wetlands in the production of fish is juxtaposed against scientific research that documents the heavy metal pollution of those Wetlands caused by industries such as tanneries. Our primary question is whether it is safe to eat the fish (and other produce) of the Wetlands; a related issue is to assess the strengths and limitations of traditional knowledge. In discussing what the farmers know and what the scientists know, we have placed our work in the context of a framework developed by Richards in 1979. Our conclusions suggest that the expertise of the farmers and the expertise of the scientists can be brought together.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-644
Number of pages26
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • East Kolkata Wetlands
  • fish farming
  • food safety
  • ground-water
  • heavy metal pollution
  • India
  • sewage
  • traditional knowledge

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