Through a micro-level study of a biofuel-related land acquisition in rural Tamil Nadu, India, this article reveals how state-subject relations are shaping modern land deal politics. Through its political construction of the concept of 'wasteland' and its associated wasteland development programme, the Indian state has facilitated a series of questionable land acquisitions, reshaping agrarian livelihoods in the process. A class of land brokers has emerged to help carry out the state's project of converting 'wastelands' to more 'productive', state-defined uses such as biofuel cultivation and industrial expansion. Those whose lands have been acquired as part of these programmes have undergone a transition to wage labour, increasing the prolitarianization of agrarian communities. By documenting the mechanics of this 'wasteland governmentality', this study contributes to a political sociology of the state by unpacking the linkages between the state and agrarian subjects in the context of the 'global land grab'.
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