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Lunch lecture: ‘Geo’-Politics and Animist Social Contracts in the New Himalayas

Thursday 9 February 2023
Pieter de la Court Building


Modern geopolitics is dominantly associated with states and their often antagonistic interests. This paper explores what happens when we take the original Greek meaning of ‘geo’ – the physical earth, relating to the earth, mother earth, earth goddess, Gaia – as the gravity of our analysis. When supplemented with the suffix ‘politics’, this originary geopolitics relates the integrality of the physical, political, and spiritual worlds. In this talk I argue and illustrate ethnographically that this version of geopolitics resonates with a range of indigenous Himalayan communities, and offers a non-anthropocentric critique and alternative to utilitarian narratives of the state-capital.

Bio Jelle Wouters

Jelle Wouters is a social anthropologist who carried out long-term ethnographic and historical research among the upland and tribal Nagas in India’s generally lesser known Northeastern Region, writing about insurgency, violence, vernacular politics, capitalism, resource-extraction, and social history. His main research area and focus today are environmental humanities, climate change, water, and human-animal-plant entanglements in Bhutan, and Highland Asia more widely. 


Organised by the Asia cluster of the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology.

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