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Department of Social Anthropology


Himalayan connections: melting glaciers, sacred landscapes and mobile technologies in a Changing Climate

HimalConnect Solar to Limi


In a confluence of events, climate change-related floods are occurring at the same historical moment that motorable roads and telephone connections, as well as new governance modes, are arriving in Buddhist societies in Nepal and Bhutan. "Himalayan Connections: Melting Glaciers, Sacred Landscapes and Mobile Technologies in a Changing Climate" (HimalConnect) is a four-year interdisciplinary project that analyses environmental perceptions and decision-making at this crucial moment of change.

Based on case studies in Nepal and Bhutan, HimalConnect explores the questions:

  1. How have the villagers managed their environment and responded to natural disasters in the past, and what strategies do they use at present? 
  2. How does the introduction of new roads and communication technology, as well as discourses on global climate influence how they perceive and manage their environment? 
  3. How can local knowledge about environmental threats, such as floods caused by melting glaciers, be scaled out and made relevant for environmental decision makers on different levels?

The project builds from an in-depth investigation of the environmental management strategies deployed in Limi, in Nepal’s impoverished Humla District, to a secondary case-study in Bhutan, in a multi-level analysis that encompasses the complexity of different geographical and temporal scales. The results of the project will: (i) provide insight into secular and Buddhist ideas and practices of environmental management in Nepal and Bhutan; (ii) show the ways in which new technology and connectivities are mediated by culture; (iii) contribute to broader understandings of how extra-local knowledges and framings of climate change and environmental management (for example, from the state and NGOs) affect local perceptions and agency; (iv) provide a comparative overview of the importance of case study approaches to understanding multi-level environmental management; (v) develop a methodology across different contexts through interaction with scholars working in other remote and vulnerable areas in the world to explore the scalability of local strategies across the different decision-making levels of environmental management.

HimalConnect (April 2018-March 2022) is funded by the Research Council of Norway’s NORGLOBAL-2 programme, in cooperation with the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, and the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge. Project partners include: CICERO (Centre for International Climate Research), École Pratique des Hautes Études, University of Oregon, ICIMOD, The Mountain Institute, Limi User Group for Flood Protection, College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan.

Core members on the project are: Riamsara Kuyakanon Knapp, Astrid Hovden at the University of the Arctic (Tromso), Hildegard Diemberger (Co-I) and Hanna Havnevik (Oslo - Project Manager).


Dr Riam  Kuyakanon Knapp
Research Associate, MIASU