Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

Profile

Organizers: 

Dan Smyer Yü (Ph.D. University of California at Davis)
Professor/Founding Director
Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies 
Yunnan Minzu University

Dan Smyer Yu is Professor and Founding Director of Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University, a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at University of Göttingen, and a Research Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity (on leave 2014-15).  He received his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 2006, specializing in trans-regional studies of ethnic relations, religious revitalizations, Sino-Tibetan Buddhist interactions, and globalization. His recent publications include The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (monograph, Routledge 2011) and Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (monograph, De Gruyter 2015). His current research directions are transboundary governance of natural and human heritages, water and religious diversity, religion and peacebuilding, comparative studies of secularisms in the greater Himalayan region. He is also a documentary filmmaker. His widely screened films include Embrace (50 min. Tibetan mountain culture and ecology 2011) and Rainbow Rider (55 min. Tibetan Buddhism in China 2013).


Alark Saxena (Ph.D. Yale University)
Program Director/Steering Committee Member
Yale Himalayan Initiative
Lecturer, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Yale University

Alark Saxena is the Program Director of Yale Himalaya Initiative and a Lecturer at the School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesAlark is a social-ecologist who is interested in questions associated to sustainability, resilience and livelihood using a systems approach.  His current research is focused in India and Nepal. In India, Alark is developing a complex model to evaluate livelihood resilience of forest based communities. Within Himalayas, Alark is modeling the impacts of tourism on local livelihood and culture in the Sagarmatha National park, Nepal. Himalayas have been a part of Alark’s life since his teenage days. As the Program Director of Yale Himalaya Initiative, Alark works to strengthen old and forge new relationships between Yale and the Himalayan region. 


Specialists and Instructors: 

Yale University

Andrew Quintman (Ph.D. University of Michigan)
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
Steering Committee Member of Yale Himalaya Initiative
Yale University

Andrew Quintman is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, specializing in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet and the Himalaya. His areas of teaching and research include Buddhist literature and history, sacred geography and pilgrimage, and visual cultures of the wider Himalayan region. He is also interested in the religious and literary histories of Tibet’s unique southern border communities.

His recent book, The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet’s Great Saint Milarepa (Columbia University Press 2014), won the American Academy of Religion’s 2014 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion and the 2015 Heyman Prize for outstanding scholarship from Yale University. In 2010 his new English translation of the Life of Milarepa was published by Penguin Classics. He is currently working on two new projects, one exploring Buddhist religious and literary culture in the borderlands of Tibet and Nepal, and the other examining the life of the Buddha through the visual and literary materials associated with Jonang Monastery in western Tibet. He has also been working to document and analyze traditional Bhutanese temple artwork within its historical context.

He completed his undergraduate studies at Hampshire College and his graduate work at the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Yale in 2009, he served for seven years as Academic Director of the School for International Training’s Tibetan Studies program based in Kathmandu. Between 2001-2007 he also led a summer program for Tibetan Studies in Tibet offered through the University of Michigan. From 2006-2009 he joined Princeton University’s Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, where he held the Cotsen-Mellon Fellowship in the History of the Book. He is former Co-Chair of the Tibetan and Himalayan Religions Group of the American Academy of Religion and is co-leading a five-year seminar at the AAR on Religion and the Literary in Tibet. He is also Faculty Coordinator for the Yale Himalaya Initiative. For 2015–2017, he is a scholar in the ACLS-Ho Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies.


Alark Saxena (Ph.D. Yale University)
Program Director/Steering Committee Member
Yale Himalayan Initiative
Lecturer, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Yale University

Alark Saxena is the Program Director of Yale Himalaya Initiative and a Lecturer at the School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesAlark is a social-ecologist who is interested in questions associated to sustainability, resilience and livelihood using a systems approach.  His current research is focused in India and Nepal. In India, Alark is developing a complex model to evaluate livelihood resilience of forest based communities. Within Himalayas, Alark is modeling the impacts of tourism on local livelihood and culture in the Sagarmatha National park, Nepal. Himalayas have been a part of Alark’s life since his teenage days. As the Program Director of Yale Himalaya Initiative, Alark works to strengthen old and forge new relationships between Yale and the Himalayan region. 


Alder Keleman Saxena,(Ph.D. Yale University)
Fellow- Yale Himalaya Initiative (Food Security and Resilience)

Post Doc Fellow at the AURA program at Aarhus University, Denmark 

My research explores the contributions made by agrobiodiversity (or native and traditional crops) to household food security and food culture in Cochabamba, Bolivia. My previous research explored the social, economic, and policy determinants of the conservation of maize diversity in Mexico. 


Yunnan Minzu University and other international scholars

Dan Smyer Yü (Ph.D. University of California at Davis)
Professor/Founding Director
Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies 
Yunnan Minzu University

Dan Smyer Yu is Professor and Founding Director of Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University, a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at University of Göttingen, and a Research Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity (on leave 2014-15).  He received his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 2006, specializing in trans-regional studies of ethnic relations, religious revitalizations, Sino-Tibetan Buddhist interactions, and globalization. His recent publications include The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (monograph, Routledge 2011) and Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (monograph, De Gruyter 2015). His current research directions are transboundary governance of natural and human heritages, water and religious diversity, religion and peacebuilding, comparative studies of secularisms in the greater Himalayan region. He is also a documentary filmmaker. His widely screened films include Embrace (50 min. Tibetan mountain culture and ecology 2011) and Rainbow Rider (55 min. Tibetan Buddhism in China 2013).


Wang Jianhua (Ph.D. University of California at Riverside)
Researcher
Yunnan Provincial Institute for Ethnic Studies
Yunnan Minzu University

Wang Jianhua (Nyawrbyeivq Aryoeq) is a Researcher at Yunnan Provincial Ethnology Research Institute, Yunnan University for Nationalities, China. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from University of California at Riverside. Geographically, his research work focuses on the Mekong Region of the Mainland Southeast Asia on these topics and issues: Cultural ecology and political ecology of natural resource management; Ethnobiology (particularly of relations between cultural and biological diversity); Indigenous people and sustainable development; Government policies and natural resource management /sustainable development; Rotational farming/swidden agriculture; Community-based natural resource management; and Hani-Akha history, culture and language.

 

Li Yunxia (Ph.D. Macquarie University)
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
Yunnan Minzu University

Li Yunxia is an assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, Yunnan Minzu University. She received her M.Phil in anthropology from University of Bergen, Norway in 2006 and Ph.D. in anthropology in 2013 from Macquarie University, Australia. Her research focuses mainly on Southwest China, Northern Laos and China-Lao border areas. Her training in sociology and anthropology respectively focused on gender and food studies. Currently, her research interests include frontier issues, Western and Chinese modes of aid and development, trans-border capital and human flows, agrarian studies, gender and ethnic policies. She has been actively involved in several projects related to public health and gender studies. Prior to these projects, she also participated in gender training programs sponsored by Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. She has published articles on gender, cosmologies, and domestic education of the Hani/Akha. Her current research project focuses ethnic social networks in China-Lao borderlands.


Georgina Drew (Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology & Development Studies
The University of Adelaide, Australia

Georgina Drew, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.  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).


Uromi Manange Goodale, Associate Professor, College of Forestry, Guangxi University

I hold an undergraduate special degree in Botany from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a Masters in Forest Science (2001) and a Ph.D. (2009) from Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in USA. My Ph.D, thesis research focused on the ecophysiology of tropical pioneer species in Sri Lanka. Following my Ph.D., I won the prestigious Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) from the National Institutes of Health, USA to conduct research in University of California San Diego and to teach at San Diego State University. My research in California focused on how variation in precipitation and nitrogen deposition affects the physiological ecology of coastal sage and chaparral plants in Southern California. As part of the IRACDA fellowship, I was nationally trained to teach college level science and mentor students in their career development. In 2012, I Joined Professor Cao Kunfang’s research group in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and successfully completed my postdoctoral research there. During this time, I was funded by CAS as well as the China National Postdoctoral Fund general and special grants to focus on the regeneration ecology and seed germination of tropical species. In 2014, I joined Guangxi University as an Associate Professor to work with Dr. Cao Kunfang at the Plant Ecophysiology and Evolution Group, State Key Laboratory Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-bioresources as well as College of Forestry. I have received several awards for scientific excellence and was the editor of three special issues published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry and one in Forest Ecology and Management. I currently serve as the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Sustainable Forestry, an international academic journal dedicated to research on the sustainable development of forest resources.


Reinmar Seidler, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston
Lecturer of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Areas of Expertise: Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Biology, History of Ecology, Sustainability Science

My current research focuses on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and rural livelihoods in the Eastern Himalaya. I am involved with a large research program, funded by USAID, exploring the effects of intersecting processes of global change in two forested mountain environments of India. The geophysical, ecological and socioeconomic impacts of climate change are emerging rapidly at high altitudes, and are already affecting many aspects of life. Therefore, this research is of necessity quite multi-disciplinary, demanding attention to economics, landscape ecology, rural sociology and political ecology as well as to ecology and conservation biology. The development of adaptive strategies requires close interaction with a variety of stakeholders with often divergent interests. This keeps me continuously learning and expanding my point of view!

I am very interested in the particular challenges facing mountain environments, their human and non-human denizens. I am a member of the Mountain Research Initiative and the Mountain Partnership


Vice President Duan Gang (Ethnology)

Duan Gang, Ph.D. is Vice President of Yunnan Minzu University and Professor of Anthropology. He is a native to Yunnan Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Yunnan University. Before joining Yunnan Minzu University, he was the Director of Yunnan Provincial Institute of Economic Research, the Chairman of the Yunnan Association of Agricultural Economics, and Vice Chairman of the Society for Yunnan Regional Economic Studies. He has a long track record of doing research on economics and social development in the ethnic minority regions of Yunnan. He has been the principal researcher of numerous national and provincial projects and has conducted research assignments on behalf of World Bank and Asia Development Bank. His representative publications include Human Needs and the Construction of Anthropology of Demand, Research on Naxi Villages in Yunnan, and numerous other monographs and articles. His current research interests are regional economy, ethno-economic development, the transregional cooperation of the greater Mekong River region and Southeast Asia, and ethnic heritage preservation studies. In the 2016 Sino-Pakistan Economic Corridor Summit Meeting, Professor Duan Gang proposed “the trans-Himalayan economic, ecological, and cultural networks.”  He is a frequent guest speaker at numerous universities and public venues.


Sponsors:

Na Jinhua
President of Yunnan Minzu University
Professor of Higher Education Management
Yunnan Minzu University

Li Bingze
Vice President of Yunnan Minzu University
Professor of International Relations
Yunnan Minzu University

Duan Gang
Vice President of Yunnan Minzu University
Professor of Anthropology
Yunnan Minzu University