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At the Tail of the Buffalo : Van Gujjar pastoralists between the forest and the world arena

Publiceringsår: 1998
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Department of Sociology, Lund University


This study is about how the 'global' becomes localized and how the 'local' is articulated through the 'global'. It deals with the Van (forest) Gujjars, a people of nomadic forest pastoralists who inhabit the Central Himalayas of India. The study has two main foci: One is the everyday life-world of the Van Gujjars in the forest - a Van Gujjar ethnography - and the other is the conflict over 'conservation of nature' in which that life-world is implicated through the establishment of a national park in the middle of their winter lands. It is thus about the relationship between human beings and 'nature' and it deals with that relationship at different levels running from the actual practice of a people in a local life-world to discourses and policies surrounding that relationship locally, nationally and globally. As an ideology, such as saving 'wild' nature is filtered through the system we see how it becomes invested in particular perspectives. In order to understand the Van Gujars as embedded in their world of forest and mountains I have grounded the study in phenomenology. The study shows how the Van Gujjar life-world of forests and mountains is a 'lived' and 'embodied' world, place-bound and experienced by being-in-it. It is further this concrete life-world of forest that provides authenticity to the Van Gujjars' claim that it is they who speak 'the voice of nature' in the conflict over conservation and that, consequently, they are the best managers of the forest. The study demonstrates how an indigenous identity 'close to nature' is created as a political means for gaining the right to continue using the forest as a life-world. This is done on the basis of a historical continuity where some aspects of tradition are emphasised while others are downplayed. The study is about the relationship between people and the environment, but it is also about exploitation, dominance, insurgence and political struggle, and about how 'ecology' may be used as a liberating force as well as a tool of domination. The study may, in this sense, be seen to belong within a tradition of political ecology.


Carolinasalen, Lund University
  • Tim Ingold (Professor)


  • Social Anthropology
  • indigenous peoples
  • environmental justice
  • forest management
  • the Himalays
  • nature conservation
  • forest pastoralism
  • nomads
  • phenomenology
  • Cultural anthropology
  • ethnology
  • Kulturantropologi
  • etnologi


  • [unknown] [unknown]
  • ISSN: 1101-9948
  • ISBN: 91-89078-53-5
  • ISRN: LUSAGD/SAAN--98/1005--Se

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