1st Edition

Cosmopolitical Ecologies Across Asia Places and Practices of Power in Changing Environments

    294 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    294 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cosmopolitical Ecologies Across Asia offers a unique insight into the non-human and spiritual dimensions of environmental management in a changing world.

    This volume presents a comparative, place-based exploration of landscapes across Asia and the entities, practices and knowledges that inhabit them. Rather than treating sacred mountains, terrains and water sources as self-contained, esoteric religious phenomena, the authors consider them within critical 'cosmopolitical ecologies' framings in which non-human entities are engaged as actors in the socio-political arena. The chapters include case studies of healing springs recognized by governments, and sacred mountains that are addressed by heads of states and Communist Party cadres, or that speak to the faithful through spirit mediums in a politics of re-enchantment. Contributors explore the diverse ways in which non-human entities such as forest spirits, reindeer, mountains and Buddhist Masters of the Land are engaged by humans to navigate environmental change and address a range of ecological threats from large-scale mining to climate change. Cosmopolitical ecologies approaches encompass the healing power of topography as well as transformative intimacies with other-than-human beings such as sparrows within an Islamic eco-theological poetic setting. In this light the book observes dynamic and creative processes of cosmological innovation including the repurposing of ritual to address challenges such as the Covid-19 epidemic.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of environment and society across disciplinary perspectives in general, and to anthropologists, human geographers, political ecologists, indigenous studies, area studies, environmental sciences and environmental humanities scholars in particular.

    The Introduction to this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

    I: Introduction: Cosmopolitical Ecologies Across Asia: Introduction

    Riam Kuyakanon, Hildegard Diemberger, David Sneath

    II: Cosmopolitical Landscapes and Ecologies of Practice

    1. When Lha Lu Spirits Suffer and Sometimes Fight Back: Tibetan Cosmopolitics in Times of Environmental Threats and Climate Change

    Hildegard Diemberger

    2. Territorial Cults in Sino-Tibetan Borderlands: Mobilizing Spirits for Local Identity and Environmental Protection

    Yudru Tsomu

    3. Up in Smoke: Cosmopolitical Ecologies and the Disappearing Spirits of the Land in Thailand’s Agricultural Air Pollution

    Julia Cassaniti

    III: Communities and Cosmos: Place-based Knowledges and Practices

    4. Balancing the Sacred Landscape: Environmental Management in Limi North-Western Nepal

    Astrid Hovden and Hanna Havnevik

    5. ‘Mother’ Memorials and the Cosmopolitics of Environment in Buryatia

    Caroline Humphrey

    6. Behind the Façade: Unseen Faces of Japan

    David C. Lewis

    IV: Cosmopolitics and the Contemporary State

    7. Knowing the Lords of the Land: Cosmopolitical Dynamics and Historical Change in Mongolia

    David Sneath and Elizabeth Turk

    8. Speaking of Mountain Deities Beyond the County Border: Postsocialist Cosmopolitics and State Territoriality in Inner Mongolia, China

    Thomas White

    9. Contesting the Chinese Taiga: Spirits, Reindeer, and Environmental Conservation in Northeast China

    Richard Fraser

    V: Cosmopolitical Ecologies for the 21st Century

    10. Cosmopolitical ecologies of COVID-19 in Bhutan: Repurposing Ritual and Re-presenting Realities

    Riamsara Kuyakanon and Dorji Gyeltshen

    11. Sharing a Room with Sparrows: Maulana Azad and Muslim Ecological Thought

    Anand Vivek Taneja

    12. Druids and Jhakris: Place-based Conservation and Conversations Between Spirits and Spirit-workers from Britain and Nepal

    Jonathan Woolley

    VI: Afterword

    13. Cosmopolitical Ecologies in Translation

    Hildegard Diemberger, Riam Kuyakanon, David Sneath


    Riamsara Kuyakanon is a Senior Research Associate at the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK.

    Hildegard Diemberger is Research Director at the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit & Fellow of Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, UK.

    David Sneath is the Caroline Humphrey Professor of the Anthropology of Inner Asia at the Department of Social Anthropology and Director of the Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge, UK.