Waiting for the season-birds: climate change in the Eastern Himalayas through a multispecies lens

Aisher, Alex (2016) Waiting for the season-birds: climate change in the Eastern Himalayas through a multispecies lens. In: Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change 2016, 27-29 May 2016, The British Museum.

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Abstract

In the tribal state of Arunachal Pradesh in the Eastern Himalayas, a biologically rich but under- researched area of South Asia, climate change is already influencing the migration, hibernation and reproduction cycles of animals. This is already having significant knock-on effects for indigenous cultivators in the region. Responding to recent calls for social scientific study of climate change from the inside this paper examines indigenous perceptions of changes in the migration and hibernation of five birds, an insect and frog—all identified in local taxonomies as season-birds (debey-patah). Through a multispecies lens, the paper examines how observed changes in the behaviour of these companion species produce friction as they scrape and grind against established temporal imaginaries carried in oral narrative accounts of the origin of rice and the multispecies practice of cultivating rice. An indigenous cosmological portrait arises of climate change in the Eastern Himalayas as a threat to a more-than-human social contract between swidden cultivators and the surrounding landscape. Canonical indigenous oral narratives depicting seasonal task schedules serve variously to channel, trigger, and guide human perceptions and adaptations to climate change.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Seasonality, shifting cultivation, bird migration, climate change, climate friction, more-than-human social contract, soundscape ecology, time.
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for World Environmental History
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography > GF075 Human influences on the environment
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Depositing User: Alex Aisher
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 14:40
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 14:40
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66321
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