Political Ecologies Seminar Series Spring 2023: "Thinking With Plants And Animals"
This talk focuses on the political ecology of mountain tigers, indigenous people, outside researchers, and state actors in the high altitude borderlands of Northeast India. I explore how powerful development-focused actors employ tiger conservation to dispossess local people of ancestral land, in turn dispossessing tigers of life and agency. Tiger's wide-ranging and elusive ecology means that it both easy for the state, local elites and development actors to deny their existence (and push ahead with diversion of forests for development), but also difficult because they can show up at any location at any time, making it difficult to draw hard boundaries between ‘wilderness' and ‘civilisation’ in this vast landscape.
Sahil Nijhawan is an interdisciplinary conservation anthropologist who has worked on human-wildlife relations across Latin America, Southern Africa and India. For the past decade, he has worked alongside the Idu Mishmi people of Northeast India - a journey that began with his doctoral research on socio-cultural, ecological and political relations between the Idu Mishmi and tigers. He is part of several indigenous teams in Northeast India working on a range of locally-led initiatives towards rights-based bio-cultural conservation and research.
Virtual session (via zoom) provided upon registration.