MIASU Seminar 21 May – a political ecology of mountain closure in Eastern Bhutan

May 15th, 2013 by

Mond Building Seminar Room 4.30 – 6.00

Tuesday 21 May

Riamsara Kuyakanon Knapp

Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Processes of knowing: a political ecology of mountain closure in Eastern Bhutan
In this paper I detail the practice of mountain closure in Mongar, Eastern Bhutan. Drawing on field observations, ethnographic description, oral histories and interview data I describe the landscape and the people of Senekhar. I discuss the bamboo economy and the herding economy of the area and consider them as practices that are temporally and spatially defined and subject to shifting and overlapping management regimes. I examine how access to some resources becomes restricted during the mountain closure period, and how restrictions are upheld and negotiated. The coexistence of these traditional sanctions with more recent management regimes and how the villagers navigate between overlapping regimes is also considered. I conclude with reflections on what mountain closure practice illuminates about the relationship between Bhutan’s Buddhist environmental discourse and nature conservation within a context of social change and modernisation.