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  • 08/25/2021 10:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Structural Inequality and Epidemiological Invisibility: Himalayan New Yorkers Respond to Covid-19

    A project funded by the Social Science Research Council, with additional support from the Peter Wall Institute (UBC) and the SPARK Award from Dartmouth College

    This project addresses the rapidly unfolding health, humanitarian, and socioeconomic crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic among communities of Himalayan New Yorkers who live and work at the epicenter of the current outbreak. Using daily auto-ethnographic video diaries, interviews, language mapping methodologies, and analysis of health messaging about Covid-19 from state, city, and community institutions as well as social media, this project responds to the SSRC call for research on how Covid-19 reflects social inequality and the uneven impacts across lines of race and ethnicity as well as the role of religious ideas, practices, and institutions in responding to the pandemic. So far, the most affected areas in New York are those that are most linguistically diverse. Drawing on anthropologies of global health and scholarship on migration, mobility, and diaspora with research on linguistic diversity and socioeconomic marginalization, our project asks how language and culture intersect with structural inequality to render a marginalized immigrant community, in a hyperdiverse urban context, “epidemiologically invisible” during a global pandemic. This project builds on long-term collaborations and relations of trust with members of the Himalayan New York community. Our research alliance has a proven track record of publications, funding, media impact, and visibility. This project leverages existing networks of community research associates and engaged scholarship; an ongoing language mapping project, itself emergent from a Languages of New York map and related research; ethnography conducted with Himalayan communities, both in New York City and in home countries; and the “Voices of the Himalaya” video storytelling project.

    Link to SSRC Items article

    Link to Asian Medicine Special Issue article, currently Open Access!

  • 06/02/2021 4:38 PM | Anonymous member

    The Dor Bahadur Bista Prize honors the life, career, and service of Dor Bahadur Bista, Nepal’s first anthropologist and former Honorary President of the ANHS predecessor organization, the Nepal Studies Association (NSA). The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding scholarship by students whose research focuses on the areas of Himalayas. Submissions from all academic disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, and arts will be accepted.

    The winner of 2020 Dor Bahadur Bista Prize for Best Graduate Student Paper is Phurwa Dhondup Gurung. Phurwa is a PhD Student in the Department of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder. The title of his paper is: "Dispossessing while Decentralizing: Participatory Conservation as an Emergent Structure of Dispossession in the Himalayas".

    Protected areas account for nearly a quarter of the total land area of Nepal and over a third of its entire Himalayan region. Despite the rhetoric of participatory conservation often used to justify fortress conservation, National Parks in Nepal remain firmly under the control of the central state and are governed by strict conservation policies implemented through a heavily militarized structures. Using a political ecology approach, this paper examines how and to what extent centralized conservation policies and the institutions of participatory conservation affect local socioecological lives in Dolpo, Nepal. I first provide a brief sketch of Shey Phoksundo National Park (SPNP) followed by an analysis of its role in monopolizing the governance of yartsa gunbu in Dho Tarap valley, Dolpo. Drawing from three-months of ethnographic field research at multiple field sites in the summer of 2019, as well as from my own engagements with Dolpo communities for over a decade, I argue that participatory conservation materializes on the ground as an emergent structure of dispossession— not only in terms of the extraction of resources like yartsa gunbu but also because of its role in displacing community-led resource governance. This paper contributes to the literature on conservation as government, the politics of decentralization in resource management, as well as the growing literature on the management of yartsa gunbu in the Himalayas.

  • 06/02/2021 4:36 PM | Anonymous member
    The James Fisher Prize for First Books on the Himalayan Region honors the scholarly contributions of Dr. James Fisher to scholarship on the region. The prize will recognize an outstanding first book on the Himalayan region, published within the past two years. Single or co-authored books will be accepted which have high quality of research, significant contribution to Himalayan Studies, notable innovation, and clarity of writing in the English language.

    The ANHS Executive Council underwent a major turnover in 2020 and has been managing significant transitions for the Association over the last 18 months. Given also the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are announcing the 2019 award this year. We will soon solicit a call for books to be considered for both 2020 and 2021.

    Congratulations to the 2019 James Fisher Prize winner Karine Gagné for her book Caring for Glaciers: Land, Animals and Humanity in the HimalayasThis ethnography contributes to our understanding of human-environment relations in the Himalayan region, and employs novel theoretical interventions to do so. The book contributes to an understanding of ethics as informed by both practical activity in daily life, and beliefs about the nonhuman world. It engages the concept of an ethics of care by showing how the Ladakhi people sacrifice for the land, identify with a glacier, attend to domesticated animals, and cultivate knowledge about Ladakhi ecosystems. Based on year-round research in the Sham region of Ladakh, Gagne shows how caring for the land, glaciers, animals is a moral responsibility informed by religious ideas, but also by everyday life. In so doing she specifies a theory of the Anthropocene outside centres of global North knowledge production, where everyday human life engages nonhuman transitions at a key site manifesting contemporary geologic transformations. The book evokes a powerful moral and biophysical framework for the global call for care beyond humans, and points to critical questions about where the Indian state (and others) stands in relation to global discussions about the relationship between the human and the more-than-human.

    In addition, the Prize Committee awards Honorable Mention to Stefan Fiol for his book  Recasting Folk in the Himalayas: Indian Music, Media and Social MobililtyFiol illustrates through an ethnographic and historical study how folk music and the terminology of “folk” is conditioned by colonial, nationalist, and caste-based values and expectations. Spatially the book focuses on the Garhwal and Kumaon region in the Indian state of Uttarakhand In so doing it explores the everyday praxis of performers and performances in order to articulate the historical and contemporary “recasting” of folk in the Indian Himalayas. Specifically “folk” is recast via a politics of caste hierarchy—“lower-caste artisans from rural areas were celebrated as the source of the artistic heritage of the nation, but upper-caste artists were required to reform these raw materials and transform them into folklore.” Fiol thus reveals how the politics of folklorization itself is inherently interconnected with social status and mobility.

  • 05/18/2021 6:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris,

    We are writing on behalf of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS), the oldest academic institution in the United States devoted to the study of Nepal and the Himalayan region. Nepal is a country that tends to make headlines when disaster strikes - massive earthquakes, a Maoist insurgency, avalanches on Mt. Everest; yet media sensationalism is not helping the country during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. And, as Nepal faces what is arguably the most desperate humanitarian catastrophe in the modern history of the country, the media has been all but silent. Both urban and rural communities are reeling from a second wave, and the expected economic devastation and loss of life is difficult to comprehend. The country is in a precarious and dire situation. Crucially, despite the shortage of vaccines, Nepal is uniquely well suited to effectively and rapidly mobilize COVID-19 vaccine aid, based on decades of experience mounting prior vaccine campaigns through grassroots public health infrastructure, including its renowned Female Community Health Volunteer network.

    We welcome your recent pledge to share vaccines with the rest of the world. To this end, we write to implore your administration to prioritize Nepal as a recipient of immediate vaccine aid. Supplying millions of doses of the vaccine directly to Nepal will not only help to mitigate the exigent crisis in the country, but it will also help flatten the curve in South Asia as a whole. We also support direct contributions to India and other South Asian countries that are facing their own crises (and thus cannot be counted on to share resources within the region). Along with further aid in the form of oxygen supply chain assistance, and essential supplies for facility and community health workers, vaccine diplomacy is urgently needed.

    Below are some facts about the current situation in Nepal that warrant highlighting:

    • Daily cases increased 2,900% between April 1 and April 30 [Source];
    • As of May 18th, Nepal’s Ministry of Health has reported 8,136 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total # of cases to 472,354 [Source];
    • Nepal currently has one of the highest COVID-19 viral reproduction rates in the world, with a national positivity ratio of 45% [Source], and reports consistently indicate a higher number of COVID cases statistically/per million population than that of India [Source];
    • Less than 2% of Nepal’s population is fully vaccinated [Source];
    • Nearly 2 million Nepalis have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine but have not had access to a second dose, increasing the possibility of virus mutation, with global epidemiological implications [Source];
    • There are less than 2,000 ICU beds and less than 500 ventilators in the entire country [Source], setting the stage for a completely unmanageable healthcare systems scenario if the spread of the virus and its variants are not halted.

    In some regions of Nepal, as many as 90% of tests have been returning positive. In all likelihood, the situation is far worse, as data from the most highly affected areas on the Indian border with Nepal are not forthcoming. Nepal’s Health Ministry has predicted that by July 15, new case numbers could reach 800,000, and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts 40,000 deaths by then [Source], which would make Nepal the country with the highest fatality rate in South Asia by far.

    Nepal has a proven track record of national vaccination initiatives and has a country-wide public health infrastructure to rapidly vaccinate its population. Nepal’s vaccination campaigns date back to fighting smallpox in 1816 [Source], and more recent successful campaigns include children under-5 in addition to high rates of BCG coverage, DPT, oral polio vaccine [Source], measles-rubella [Source; Source], and vitamin A supplementation [Source]. Despite being enveloped in a humanitarian crisis, Nepal has the capacity to handle the receipt and effective distribution of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses. Indeed, the country has already demonstrated the successful implementation of a multi-sectoral, phase-wise COVID-19 vaccination program, in even some of the most remote regions [Source]. Nepal’s renowned Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHVs) networks are 50,000+ strong, distributed throughout all of Nepal’s seven provinces, and can be deployed to help reach every household in cities and last mile settings alike.

    As the U.S. sets its aim on the return to schools, family gatherings, and the daily social activities we hold so dear as a nation, let us not waiver in the face of the global ‘vaccine apartheid’ of which the WHO has rightfully warned [Source]. The uneven global distribution of and access to vaccines risks the very moral soul of the nation your administration has staked its reputation on. We urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure the U.S. leads the way toward global social justice, and to see that Nepal is not forgotten - its people are calling to us, and we must not turn away.

    In solidarity, and with hope for your assistance,

    Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies


    Below is a list of resources, data, petitions, and steps that can help amplify the call to action needed in this current moment.

    1. Sign & share the petitions:
    2. Call your representatives, particularly members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee & the Senators on the South Asia Subcommittee:
      • Chris Murphy (Connecticut): DC Office: (202) 224-4041, Hartford Office: (860) 549-8463
      • Todd Young (Indiana): DC Office: (202) 224-5623, Evansville: (317) 226-6700
      • Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire): DC Office: (202) 224-2841, Manchester: (603) 647-7500
      • Rand Paul (Kentucky): DC Office: (202) 224-4343, Bowling Green: (270) 782-8303
      • Ed Markey (Massachusetts): DC Office: (202) 224-2742, Boston: (617) 565 8519
      • Ted Cruz (Texas):  DC Office: (202) 224-5922, Central Texas: (512) 916-5834
      • Cory Booker (New Jersey): DC office: (202) 224-3224, Newark: (973) 639-8700
      • Mitt Romney (Utah): DC Office: (202) 224-5251, Salt Lake City: (801) 524-4380
      • Chris Van Hollen (Maryland): Constituent services: (301) 545-1500, General: (202) 224-4654
      • Bill Hagerty (Tennessee): DC Office: (202) 224-4944, Chattanooga: (423) 752-5337
    3. Consider writing an Op-Ed for your local/university newspaper, or other outlets. Some instructive examples below:
    • Nepal says its Covid response is under control – everyone can see it’s not true [Source]
    • If South Asia’s pandemic isn’t addressed as a whole, India’s COVID-19 crisis could be just the beginning [Source]
    • Facing a COVID Crisis, Nepal Cries Out for Help [Source]

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