Climate Change and Social Change in a Himachal Village
A New Road and its Significance
This article looks at a particular Gaddi community living in high-altitude settlements in Chamba District, in western Himachal Pradesh. It focuses on local interpretations and discourses around changes in climate and examines the impacts on local practices and routines. Offering a different perspective to broad-brush depictions of the climate crisis, it seeks to “bring back to earth” and humanize larger statistical analyses. I show how it can be hard to disentangle climate-driven change from wider socio-economic drivers of change because they are so interwoven in local discourse. Drawing on Ingold’s dwelling perspective and his conception of “taskscapes,” this account shows how changes in seasonal patterns are integrated into people’s routines and practices and a “new normal” seasonality or temporality emerges. In this process, the primary local benchmark for Chobia’s inhabitants is their new road, carrying the weight of local narratives about climate change as well as moral evaluations about changes in human character, for which Lord Shiva is the ultimate arbiter. It is through the prism of local reflection about the new road that a dynamic co-creation of climate and human society becomes evident.
Copyright (c) 2023 Maura Bulgheroni
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