Accepted paper:

Sensing the winds of climate change

Authors:

Ben Campbell (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore vulnerabilities in contemporary Tamang livelihoods in northern Nepal. The state, the market and strange weather converge in twists and turns of accidental and patterned effects which different generations and genders are trying to make sense of and do something about.

Paper long abstract:

While a host of scientific disciplines have made contributions regarding Himalayan evidence of temperature changes, glacier melt and drought, seemingly few anthropologists have joined the movement to see not only how they can work on climate change, but how it can work for them. This paper will explore the sense of vulnerable connectivity in contemporary Tamang livelihoods in northern Nepal. Here the state, the market and strange weather converge in twists and turns of accidental and patterned effects which different generations and genders are trying to make sense of and do something about. There are direct impacts of climate change in the frequency of failed winter crops. There are indirect manifestations of climate change in the ways that state institutions have re-equipped themselves with a new scientific agenda to challenge the entitlement of villagers to forests and pastures in protected areas. There are combined effects of political economy (especially labour migration) and winter drought that conspire to leave the older generation describing themselves as 'walking dead'. On the otherhand climate change offers the educated Tamang youth opportunities for contact with international NGOs, renewable energy technology initiatives, conservation advocacy and eco-tourism. The argument for taking on the agenda of climate change provides anthropologists of the Himalayas with possibilities for reassessing our understandings of long-term change in human-environmental interactions, and exploring the translations of global climate change discourse into the diversity of lived worlds and shifting relationships between ecological and cultural zones of the Himalayas.

panel P090
Himalayan climate change: conflicts and related effects