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Herders at heart? The role of pastoralism in a borderland high-mountain community of Tibetan culture in NW Nepal

Author Tara BATE
Director of thesis Prof. Peter Finke
Co-director of thesis Prof. Shaila Sheshia-Galvin
Summary of thesis

My fieldsite is located in the Limi pasturelands, Humla district, north-western Nepal, at the border with the Tibet Autonomous Region and between roughly 4’000 and 5’000 meters. The inhabitants are referred to as Limey, speak a western Tibetan dialect and are of Mahayanna Buddhist belief (Drikung Kagyu order) combined to local animist beliefs.

Overall question of the thesis: In spite of conditions that have become very adverse to pastoralism in Limi, some herders still persist on herding dio (female yaks, of the bovine family). Why is that so? What has led these individuals and families to keep on herding when there are easier and more profitable options for wage work in Purang, Tibet, or for trade between India, Kathmandu and Tibet?

Overall argument of the thesis: In spite of what the literature on pastoralism too often tends to suggest, the reasons are not merely economic. They have to do with culture, traditions, religion, human-animal relations, ecology, knowledge, sense of place, identity, gender, age, politics and geopolitics.

I therefore explore humans relations with non-humans (bovines, wildlife, spiritual entities and the landscape) in Limi and what these reveal about a dynamic and changing cosmology.

Status finishing
Administrative delay for the defence 2023
URL http://www.isek.uzh.ch/de/ethnologie/Personen/Personen/tarabate.html
LinkedIn Tara Bate