The religious reverence that Himalayan residents feel for the resources and non-human entities in their midst can significantly impact upon the scope of social conflict over development and conservation initiatives. This bears true in analyses arising from the field of religion and ecology that examine the positive potential of religion for sustainable resource management in the Himalaya. At times, however, it can seem that politics is an under explored aspect of such investigations. In this talk, Georgina Drew will discuss how she merged religious concerns for the damming of the River Ganga in the Garhwal Himalaya with insights from the cultural politics and political ecology of development. In drawing from her recently published book, she will explain the relevance that this religiously-attuned approach has for analyses of resource politics and conflicts taking place in other parts of the Himalaya, and particularly with respect to disputes over water management and landscape conservation.
Georgina Drew, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Her last visit to the Yale Himalayan Initiative in 2012 was related to a two-year project on Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environments in the Himalaya. She now has over 25 articles to her credit that examine human-environment relationships, gendered environmental practices, the impact of religion on the politics of development and environment, and the political ecology of water resource management. These topics have led her to work extensively with social movements contesting unsustainable resource management in various parts of the world. She is also the author of a book published in 2017 by the University of Arizona Press entitled, River Dialogues: Hindu Faith and the Political Ecology of Dams on the Sacred Ganga. Georgina’s current research on the cultural politics of urban rainwater harvesting in South Asia is funded by a three-year fellowship from the Australian Research Council (DE160101178).