P090
Himalayan climate change: conflicts and related effects

Convenors:
Ben Campbell (Durham University)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
S-233
Start time:
3 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Himalayan climate change challenges anthropologists and communities. How far has the discourse of human-induced climate change travelled as an effective discourse of mobilisation? Whose voices are silenced and whose legitimised? In what conflicts of livelihood and meaning can it gain traction?

Long abstract:

Anthropologists can engage creatively with climate change. Vernacular idioms of meteorological patterns are notable, as are accounts of resilient forms of collective environmental use. This panel will draw on ethnographic insights and cultural commentary to consider the local visibility of environmental changes, and local actors' methods of making sense communicating to outsiders in secular and sacred registers. The formulation of climate change in a scientised form of naturalistic risk expertise can present difficulties for social scientists and members of our communities of research to connect with, but provides opportunities for institutions in positions of authority over marginalised groups in locations of greater vulnerability. How far has the discourse of human-induced climate change travelled as an effective discourse of mobilisation, or of preventive response? Whose voices are silenced and whose legitimised? In what conflicts of livelihood and meaning can climate change get traction? There are methodological issues about how to recognise climate change in the field, how to interpret incidentally collected data, and how to introduce deliberation on outsiders' fascination with rates of glacier melt, species retreat, and anticipation of floods. There is evidence of extreme events foretold, of moral retribution, and of climate change used as a stick to beat back people from encroaching on protected areas, putting at risk the benefits of recent decades' work to extend participatory environmental conservation. As would be characteristic of regional Himalayan studies, we can expect immense diversity and cross-currants of explanation, recycled religion and science, and new resources for mitigation and adaptation.