1st Edition

Perceptions of Climate Change from North India
An Ethnographic Account

ISBN 9780367421434
Published March 8, 2021 by Routledge
182 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Perceptions of Climate Change from North India: An Ethnographic Account explores local perceptions of climate change through ethnographic encounters with the men and women who live at the front line of climate change in the lower Himalayas.

From data collected over the course of a year in a small village in an eco-sensitive zone in North India, this book presents an ethnographic account of local responses to climate change, resource management and indigenous environmental knowledge.  Aase Kvanneid’s observations cast light on the precarious reality of climate change in this region and bring to the fore issues such as access to water, NGO intervention and climate information for farmers. In doing so, she also explores classic topics in the study of rural India including ritual, gender, social hierarchy and political economy. Overall, this book shows how the cause and effect of climate change is perceived by those who have the most to lose and explores how the impact of climate change is being dealt with on a local and global scale.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the anthropology of climate change, environmental sociology and rural development.

Table of Contents



Climate Change in India

A Scientifically Social Climate Change

Writing Climate Change

A Note on Methodology

A Choice of Words and How They Flow



Chapter 1: Climate Change Expressions

Social Principles of Differentiation in Rani Mājri

Class in Rani Mājri

Caste in Rani Mājri

Gender in Rani Mājri



Chapter 2: Waterworn

Becoming Rani Mājri: A Kuhl Story

Time Beyond Living Memory

Time Remembered

Contemporary Rani Mājri


Unirrigated Development



Chapter 3: Governing Awareness

On Global-Local Gaps and Frictions


Junction 1: Governing Bodies

Junction 2: Governing Forest

Junction 3: Governing Soil and Water

Development Trajectories

A History of Management

Disconnected Development



Chapter 4: Divine Jurisdictions

Deciduous Land Management

Settled Deities

Placeless Beings

Auspicious Placemaking

Negotiating Village Territories



Chapter 5 Climate Identities

Being Climate Change Aware

Life in the "Greenery"

Deprived of Science, Bestowed with Eco-Sensitivity?

Climate Change as a Discourse



Chapter 6: A Dance of Global Warming

Environmental Retribution for the ‘Wrong’ Progress

On Reductionism and Disempowerment

Concluding Remarks



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Aase J. Kvanneid is an anthropologist currently working as an associate professor of Global Development Studies at the University of Agder and as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Oslo. Her main areas of research are the societal aspects of environmental and climate change, and she is currently researching the empirical embeddedness of sustainability and transcendental visions in Asia.


''In this sensitive, intimate ethnography, Aase J. Kvanneid approaches the compelling immediacy of global climate change from multiple perspectives gathered during fieldwork in a Himalayan foothill village. Her book illuminates diverse ways that local traditions and interpretations interact with outside expertise as human beings confront planetary crisis.''

~ Ann Grodzins Gold, Emerita Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Professor of Anthropology, Syracuse University.

"India’s fundamental problem with climate change is also the world’s fundamental problem. Research tends to relegate the ordinary man and woman to a reductionist oblivion in which they become hapless victims, unable to see the larger picture or be agents of their own destiny. Kvanneid’s study helps us rethink this image, and this volume constitutes an important contribution to our collective conversation".

~ Arild Engelsen Ruud, Professor of South Asia Studies and Head of Research at the South Asia Department at the University of Oslo.

"In this probing work, Aase J. Kvanneid offers a compelling and richly textured ethnography of climate change from a small village in the Shivalik Hills, India. The book powerfully weaves discussions about broader political-economic transformations alongside detailed accounts of people's everyday experience of ecological crisis in this marginalized region of South Asia. The beautiful and moving book provides a subtle and important contribution to the new anthropology of the Anthropocene, and is essential reading for everyone interested in the radical changes posed by the climate crisis in South Asia and beyond"

~ Ursula Münster, Associate Professor and Director, Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo.