Phurwa Gurung

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Colorado, Boulder, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10602

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Gurung, Phurwa (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) "Reordering highland territories: State-building, indigeneity and multispecies worldmaking in the Himalaya"

Caterpillar fungus has precipitated unprecedented socio-environmental changes over the past three decades in the Himalaya. In Dolpo, Nepal, where this study is based, it is controlled by the Nepali state whose state-making efforts have focused on capturing its economic values. From Dolpopa standpoints, yartsagunbu is an agentive being and part of the local moral economy, or cosmologies of land and more-than-human beings. Its agency emerges in relation to its role in gathering more-than-human assemblages which are productive sites where “the state,” territories, and what it means to be “Indigenous” are forged and negotiated. Taking a posthumanist political ecology approach with an Indigenous ontological orientation, this study examines yartsagunbu as a lens to understand broader processes of state-making, indigeneity, and multispecies worldmaking in the Himalaya. It will be based on twelve months of field research in Dolpo and will employ ethnographic methods including semi-structured interviews, participant observation, participatory mapping, visual documentation, and a land-based education program. It will contribute a posthumanist and Indigenous-centric perspectives to the political ecology of conservation and the state, indigeneity and the environment, and the agency of nonhumans. It will also inform policy-making in Nepal and elsewhere regarding Indigenous-led conservation and management of highly lucrative natural resources.