New Funded Research: Decolonizing climate knowledge in the Indian Himalayas

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2020

Prof. Karine Gagné of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph will lead a study on climate knowledge in the Indian Himalayas.

This five year (2020-2025) study, funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant, is titled "Decolonizing climate knowledge: an ethnographic study of travel and mobility in Indian Himalayas in an era of climate change"

Description of the Study

In glaciated mountain areas, life is strongly impacted by climate-related changes and its implications for the cryosphere (water in its solid form). Current states of knowledge about the Himalayan cryosphere remain limited due to a lack of meteorological data, technological limitations, and the challenging topography of the region.

This study considers the climate knowledge of peoples of the Indian Himalayas, a perspective that remains largely absent from scientific studies. It does so by looking at the implications of climate change on mobility in the mountains and asks: What insights about climate change, its human dimensions, and how it affects bodies of ice can emerge from an analysis of mobility on foot over time in the Indian Himalayas? This question will be answered through and ethnographic study of mobility on foot over time in six traditional routes/axes in the regions of Ladakh and Zanskar, which all entail walking on ice in its various forms: crossing glaciers, frozen lakes and rivers and walking on frozen land surfaces. This study involves participatory methodologies, including photovoice and participatory mapping, and archival research.

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