Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationColorado, Boulder, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10602
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleGurung, 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.