Bergen thesis on Climate Change Resonance in the Shivalik Hills

On Tuesday 15 May 2018, Aase Jeanette Kvanneid from the Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, defended her doctoral thesis with the thesis ”Waterworn. Climate Change Resonance in the Shivalik Hills of North India”. The evaluation committee forst opponent was Professor Ann Grodzins Gold, Syracuse University, USA.  The thesis deals with how a so-called global "climate awareness" falls into a small community in northern India. The analysis draws on long-term fieldwork among farmers and landowners, local politicians and volunteers. Ethnography thus illustrates the focal points between local, social life, and developmental work.
The Shivalik Mountains of North India are a region where it has been driving predators on natural resources for a long time, and where climate change is believed to make the situation more stressful for humans and ecosystems. Climate change and the transfer of knowledge around it are thus central. The water cycle, and water as a scarce resource, plays a central role in the analysis. When the water supply to the community was changed - both through the actions of an internationally supported irrigation project and through changes in climate and environment - local power relations were put into play. In addition, local reactions to a regional flood disaster and a landslide, both triggered by abnormally heavy precipitation, showed how global changes in climate and environment relate to local social life. Climate change was thus interpreted as a moral corrective of how people should relate to each other, to their gods, and to the environment. The main finding is that climate and environmental awareness in northern India is coincided with a national discourse about progress and modernization. Read more.