Trans-Himalayan Borderlands. Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities

posted on 26.02.2019 by Jean Michaud, Dan Smyer Yü
This book aims to explore and interpret the multi-dimensional meanings of frontier, transboundary passages, landscape transformation, and sustainability of heritages in the modern trans-Himalayan region. We focus on the diverse human responses to regionally transformative changes engendered by intensified inter-regional human migration, movements of capital, goods and technologies, new forms of religious practices, and climate change. These external forces of change are reshaping the livelihoods of communities in the region. In many ways they are forces of destructive creation, which, on one hand, destabilize the age-old ecological niches and cultural heritages of communities regarding their place-based livelihoods and worldviews, and, on the other hand, push and pull them into the global trend of modernization, market economy, and intermeshing of multi-national economics and geopolitics. In such simultaneity of destructive and re-creative processes, people in the region are undergoing what we call 'niche reconstruction', based on our reconceptualization of 'niche' broadly as being in place (Smith 1999:3) but emphatically with a trans-regional and global gravitation in order to address changing social, political, and environmental conditions, and the transregional connectivity of human livelihoods, ethnic differences, and ecological systems, and thus reintroduce complexity and human agency into what might otherwise look like a crude form of eco-geographical determinism.