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A pdf of the updated conference program with room locations is now available here (updated October 7, 2022). Below, you can find an overview of the program schedule.
A pdf of the conference abstracts is available here.
All conference sessions and the majority of events will take place in three buildings—Victoria College (VC), Emmanuel College (EM), and Northrop Frye Hall (NF)—on the University of Toronto St. George campus.
WEATHERING THE OCCUPATION: METEOROLOGICAL WARS AND CLIMATE CONTESTATIONS IN KASHMIR
Room VC 213
My talk explores what it might mean to reclaim weather and climate in Kashmir, a contested territory in Northwestern Himalayas, as geopolitical agents whose effects, force, and vitality can challenge and unsettle state-sanctioned boundaries. As Kashmir’s climate vulnerabilities intensify because of India’s occupational and settler-colonial regimes, how can weather intrusions unravel geopolitics and contest the fiction of national cartographies? To put it differently, how might foregrounding weather, rather than nation or borders, help re-envision Kashmir’s futurities beyond the confines of Indian statehood? My talk will track the ways in which everyday weather intrusions can become sites of public contestation even as weather reportage is key to managing everyday political dissidence in Kashmir.
Mona Bhan is Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Syracuse University. Her work focuses on the connections of economic development, humanitarianism, border wars and counterinsurgencies in Kashmir. More recently, she has also published on human and non-human entanglements in the Anthropocene. Mona Bhan co-founded the Critical Kashmir Studies Collective in 2013.
Mona Bhan’s keynote presentation will be followed by a discussion from Galen Murton, Assistant Professor in the Geography Program at James Madison University.
TAMING INDIA'S NORTHERNMOST BORDER: ECOLOGIES OF VIOLENCE, CARE, AND RESISTANCE IN THE HIMALAYAS
Room VC 213
Following the independence of India, the region of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas became a strategic border area which saw a progressive militarization after wars with China and Pakistan. The manifestation of power associated with the military production of the Indian state in the Himalayas is not just in the spectacular violence of wars and border skirmishes that are taking place in Ladakh, but also in the legacy of the relations – social, material, technocratic – which it entails. In this presentation, I explore the modalities of the ecologies of violence associated with the production of the Indian state in Ladakh. The first consists of the alteration of a landscape where geostrategic interests are undermining existing multispecies relationships. The second consists of the long-standing marginalization of areas that present little strategic interest because they are neither directly contiguous with Pakistan nor with China.
Building on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Ladakh and Zanskar between 2011 and 2022, I examine how these ecologies of violence are met by local populations. First, I discuss how vernacular ideas about care for nonhumans explain a landscape that is changing under both militarization and climate change. Second, I explore how road building and climate change are terrains on which the population of Zanskar, a part of Ladakh that is in the shadow of the border, is claiming its citizenship and resisting state abandonment. I conclude by considering anxieties related to another form of violence that has been operating in Ladakh since the region became a Union Territory in 2019 and which amalgamates neocolonial development, Hindu nationalism, and the absence of legislation to protect local Indigenous populations.
Karine Gagné is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph. Her research work is based in the Indian Himalayas, where she studies a range of issues, including climate change, ethics of care, human-animal relations, conservation, state production, citizenship, and climate knowledge. She is the author of Caring for Glaciers: Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas, published by University of Washington Press, for which she awarded the James Fisher Prize. She is currently leading two projects funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and which are based in Zanskar, Ladakh, and Spiti.
Pasang Yangjee Sherpa, Assistant Professor of Lifeways in Indigenous Asia at the University of British Columbia, will join us as a discussant for Karine Gagné’s keynote.
Room NF 003
Developed from extensive ethnographic research, the science fiction documentary Ningwasum places the Indigenous Yakthung community from eastern Nepal in a futuristic space travel scenario. Ningwasum is centred around two Indigenous astronauts and time travellers from an alternative future, in which a Yakthung nation coexists with other nations and allies that have created their own advanced technology. The film explores concepts of time, memory and belonging as well as experiences of colonization and cultural erasure. It imagines a future in which Indigenous people have asserted their identities through the use of technology, a creative space that film maker Subash Thebe calls "Adivasi Futurism." Filmed mostly in the Himalayas including the Wasanglung region of eastern Nepal, which is believed to be the shamanic home of the Yakthung people, Ningwasum is spoken entirely in the Yakthung language and weaves oral narratives, animation and electronic music into its storytelling. It features Subin Limbu and Shanta Nepali as time travellers from the future.
Subash Thebe Limbu is a Yakthung visual artist based in Kathmandu, Nepal and London, United Kingdom. Working with film, sound, performance and painting, he draws on science and speculative fiction to address Indigenous struggles resulting from the effects of colonisation and climate change. Subash also produces Antariksa, a series of podcasts that explores current socio-political issues in Nepal and the Himalayan region.
Subash graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins at the University of the Arts London (2016), where he received an UAL Vice Chancellors International Scholarship. He also holds a BA in Fine Art from Middlesex University and an Intermediate in Fine Art from Lalit Kala Campus in Kathmandu.
The logo of the Himalayan Studies Conference creatively synthesizes North American Indigenous forms of knowledge and worldviews, represented by the turtle as a creator and symbol of life itself, and Buddhist principles of peace, harmony and compassion depicted by a stupa. The CN tower, also called Canadian National Tower, is a broadcast and telecommunication tower in Toronto and a widely recognized landmark of the city. Drawing attention to the environment, land and people, the logo is life-affirming and symbolizes openness and becoming.
Thinley Gyamtso Lama is a graphic designer and illustrator born in northern Nepal’s Tsum Valley. He received his BFA in Graphic Communication from the School of Arts at Kathmandu University in 2021. Besides working on illustration projects, Thinley is engaged in various outdoor and environmental art programs. He enjoys making character designs and concept art, using digital and watercolor-based illustrations.