Caring for Glaciers
Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas
- PUBLISHED: February 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Anthropology, Asian Studies / South Asia, Environmental Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 258 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 19 b&w illus., 2 maps
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295744001
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Regional geopolitical processes have turned the Himalayan region of Ladakh, in northwest India, into a strategic border area with an increasing military presence that has decentered the traditional agropastoralist economy. This in turn has led to social fragmentation, the growing isolation of elders, and ethical dilemmas for those who strive to maintain traditional subsistence activities. Simultaneously, climate change is causing glaciers—a vital source of life in the region—to recede, which elders perceive as the consequence of a broken bond with the natural environment and the deities that inhabit the landscape.
Caring for Glaciers looks at the causes and consequences of ongoing social and cultural change in peoples’ relationship with the natural environment. It illuminates how relations of reciprocity - learned through everyday life and work in the mountains with the animals, glaciers, and deities that form Ladakh’s sacred geography - shape and nurture an ethics of care. Integrating contemporary studies of affect, landscape, and multispecies anthropology, Caring for Glaciers contributes to the anthropology of ethics by examining the moral order that develops through the embodied experience of life and work in the Himalayas.
Authors & Contributors
Karine Gagné is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Guelph.
In an outstanding example of multispecies anthropology based on 18 months of field research in Ladakh, northwest India, Gagné (anthropology, Univ. of Guelph) examines the consequences of war since 1948, the militarization of the border, demographic shifts, economic transformations, and unpredictable rainfall on agro-pastoral communities. . . .Highly recommended.- Choice
This refreshing, honest-to-life portrayal of ethnographic moments makes this an essential book for anyone interested in understanding contemporary issues in the Himalayas and changing human-cryosphere relationships. . . . Gagné demonstrates that the region becomes meaningful through the entanglements of land, animals, and humans. In Caring for Glaciers, readers learn that the ethics of care, which maintain these entanglements, are eroding. It is therefore a sobering gift.- Journal of Asian Studies
[A]n evocative ethnography of how the Tibetan Buddhist Ladakhis on the borderlands of India’s northwestern frontier have coped with the dramatic changes in the context of their lives since the 1947 partition of India. [A] profoundly compelling story of how globalization, conflict, and climate change have transformed people and, yes, glaciers.- Journal of Anthropological Research
[A]n eloquent ethnographic exploration of how ethics and morality are cultivated through the everyday practices of living in the high desert of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas.- Anthropologica
[A] unique integrative account of generational and climate resiliency in the Himalayas.- Anthropological Quarterly
[A] rich and timely ethnography exploring the ethical dimen-sion of human entanglement with the non‐human world...The great strength of Caring for Glaciers lies in the depth of its ethnographic description, drawing out the entanglement of political and environmental factors in modern Ladakh. It deserves to be read not only by regional specialists, but by anyone with an interest in human relations with the more‐than‐human world.- Social Anthropology
The idea of morality serves as an axis for Gagné to bring together climate change, geopolitical tensions within and between nations, and the dilemmas of Indigenous peoples faced with the forces of nationalism and globalization.- Benjamin Orlove, anthropologist and professor of international and public affairs, Columbia University
A timely and important foregrounding of the complex assemblage of human environmental relationships in the Himalayas.- Mona Bhan, coauthor of Climate without Nature: A Critical Anthropology of the Anthropocene
Karine Gagné offers a perceptive and ethnographically rich monograph to the growing field of borderlands studies in high Asia and boosts our awareness of the Human-Nature bond on these margins.- Jean Michaud, coauthor of Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands