Making Markets and Valuing Natures in a Himalayan ‘Frontier’

The recording of the event is now available here:

Popular representations of Nepal’s Jumla district have undergone a significant shift over the last decade. Long characterized as economically backward, unproductive and food scarce, the mountainous district is today celebrated as a site of newfound ‘green’ value. Jumla’s largely chemical-free, biodiverse agroecologies have been reframed as a source of market opportunities, from agrotourism and organic produce to novel “superfoods” and plant genetic resources. These optimistic sustainable development narratives can also, however, obscure important tensions between different agendas for development and conservation in the region. This talk will explore how the agricultural policies and projects of overlapping authorities intersect and come into conflict in the district. Highlighting limitations in both market-based conservation strategies and depoliticized narratives of environmental stewardship, it will also consider emergent alternative visions for agrarian development and ‘food sovereignty’ in the region.


Elsie Lewison is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. She received her PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto where she also served as a research associate with a multi-year, Nepal-based research project titled Infrastructures of Democracy. Her research focuses on how agricultural development agendas intersect with shifts in dominant approaches to health and sustainability and differently scaled political struggles.

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