(Anti-)fragile lives: enhancing adaptation through storytelling in the Eastern Himalayas

Aisher, Alex (2015) (Anti-)fragile lives: enhancing adaptation through storytelling in the Eastern Himalayas. In: International Symposium on Anthropology and Natural Disasters, April 17-18, 2015, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra.

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Abstract

This paper challenges the social scientific focus on what it means to be 'resilient' and instead proposes that anthropologists turn attention to what it means to be 'antifragile' (Taleb 2012), a concept which emphasises the creative and regenerative response of living entities to stress and disorder. Based on longterm ethnographic fieldwork with the Nyishi tribe in the Eastern Himalayas, this paper explores oral accounts by Nyishi hunters and cultivators of the tragedies and social-ecological crises of their ancestors. The paper argues that the local effects of such oral narratives not only challenge Taleb's critique of narrative forms of understanding as "dangerous", but also suggest that narrative may in fact uphold optionality in trial-and-error learning at the centre of Taleb's portrait of what it means to be antifragile.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: adaptation; storytelling; optionality; antifragile; Black Swan events; narrative; disaster; indigenous environmental knowledge; trial-and-error leaning; resilience; nonpredictive decision making.
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for World Environmental History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D016 Methodology- General works > D016.14 Oral history
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
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Depositing User: Alex Aisher
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 15:55
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 15:55
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66322
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