Cultural landscapes at risk

Exploring the meaning of place in a sacred valley of Nepal

Jennifer Sherry, Allan Curtis, Emily Mendham, Eric Toman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Mountain peoples are increasingly impacted by environmental changes, including the rapid retreat of glaciers and the growth of dangerous glacial lakes that can breach their natural dams and flood downstream communities. Despite considerable research assessing glacial lake hazards, there have been relatively few attempts to explore the socio-cultural and psychological dimensions of this type of risk. Further, environmental changes become intermeshed with other types of broad-scale changes that have local scale implications in the lived experience of rural mountain communities. This paper examines risk through the lens of those who are directly impacted by such processes. Ethnographic techniques were used, including interviews with community members from the case study in a sacred valley of Nepal that lies downstream from a large and potentially dangerous glacial lake, Tsho Rolpa. The Rolwaling Sherpa community's enduring attachment to their valley and their desire for cultural continuity amidst social, economic, and environmental changes have influenced their interpretations of risk and shaped their responses in complex ways. Findings indicate that threats to their landscape also constitute threats to their self-understanding and their subjective notions of well-being, which are bound up in the meaning of their place. This case study demonstrates the additional insight that can come from contextualizing disaster risk in a way that acknowledges local people's subjective interpretations, priorities, and values. This is expected to be especially critical in cases where sacred or culturally significant landscapes are threatened by global environmental changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-200
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume52
Early online date26 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2018

Fingerprint

cultural landscape
Nepal
glacial lake
environmental change
valley
community
threat
interpretation
mountain
social economics
disaster
natural disaster
glacier
continuity
dam
well-being
hazard
interview
economics
Values

Cite this

@article{af904f58852a418a9c272bb13f8d06b0,
title = "Cultural landscapes at risk: Exploring the meaning of place in a sacred valley of Nepal",
abstract = "Mountain peoples are increasingly impacted by environmental changes, including the rapid retreat of glaciers and the growth of dangerous glacial lakes that can breach their natural dams and flood downstream communities. Despite considerable research assessing glacial lake hazards, there have been relatively few attempts to explore the socio-cultural and psychological dimensions of this type of risk. Further, environmental changes become intermeshed with other types of broad-scale changes that have local scale implications in the lived experience of rural mountain communities. This paper examines risk through the lens of those who are directly impacted by such processes. Ethnographic techniques were used, including interviews with community members from the case study in a sacred valley of Nepal that lies downstream from a large and potentially dangerous glacial lake, Tsho Rolpa. The Rolwaling Sherpa community's enduring attachment to their valley and their desire for cultural continuity amidst social, economic, and environmental changes have influenced their interpretations of risk and shaped their responses in complex ways. Findings indicate that threats to their landscape also constitute threats to their self-understanding and their subjective notions of well-being, which are bound up in the meaning of their place. This case study demonstrates the additional insight that can come from contextualizing disaster risk in a way that acknowledges local people's subjective interpretations, priorities, and values. This is expected to be especially critical in cases where sacred or culturally significant landscapes are threatened by global environmental changes.",
keywords = "Culture, Glacial lake outburst floods, Identity, Place attachment, Vulnerability",
author = "Jennifer Sherry and Allan Curtis and Emily Mendham and Eric Toman",
year = "2018",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.07.007",
language = "English",
volume = "52",
pages = "190--200",
journal = "Global Environmental Change",
issn = "0959-3780",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Cultural landscapes at risk : Exploring the meaning of place in a sacred valley of Nepal. / Sherry, Jennifer; Curtis, Allan; Mendham, Emily; Toman, Eric.

In: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 52, 01.09.2018, p. 190-200.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cultural landscapes at risk

T2 - Exploring the meaning of place in a sacred valley of Nepal

AU - Sherry, Jennifer

AU - Curtis, Allan

AU - Mendham, Emily

AU - Toman, Eric

PY - 2018/9/1

Y1 - 2018/9/1

N2 - Mountain peoples are increasingly impacted by environmental changes, including the rapid retreat of glaciers and the growth of dangerous glacial lakes that can breach their natural dams and flood downstream communities. Despite considerable research assessing glacial lake hazards, there have been relatively few attempts to explore the socio-cultural and psychological dimensions of this type of risk. Further, environmental changes become intermeshed with other types of broad-scale changes that have local scale implications in the lived experience of rural mountain communities. This paper examines risk through the lens of those who are directly impacted by such processes. Ethnographic techniques were used, including interviews with community members from the case study in a sacred valley of Nepal that lies downstream from a large and potentially dangerous glacial lake, Tsho Rolpa. The Rolwaling Sherpa community's enduring attachment to their valley and their desire for cultural continuity amidst social, economic, and environmental changes have influenced their interpretations of risk and shaped their responses in complex ways. Findings indicate that threats to their landscape also constitute threats to their self-understanding and their subjective notions of well-being, which are bound up in the meaning of their place. This case study demonstrates the additional insight that can come from contextualizing disaster risk in a way that acknowledges local people's subjective interpretations, priorities, and values. This is expected to be especially critical in cases where sacred or culturally significant landscapes are threatened by global environmental changes.

AB - Mountain peoples are increasingly impacted by environmental changes, including the rapid retreat of glaciers and the growth of dangerous glacial lakes that can breach their natural dams and flood downstream communities. Despite considerable research assessing glacial lake hazards, there have been relatively few attempts to explore the socio-cultural and psychological dimensions of this type of risk. Further, environmental changes become intermeshed with other types of broad-scale changes that have local scale implications in the lived experience of rural mountain communities. This paper examines risk through the lens of those who are directly impacted by such processes. Ethnographic techniques were used, including interviews with community members from the case study in a sacred valley of Nepal that lies downstream from a large and potentially dangerous glacial lake, Tsho Rolpa. The Rolwaling Sherpa community's enduring attachment to their valley and their desire for cultural continuity amidst social, economic, and environmental changes have influenced their interpretations of risk and shaped their responses in complex ways. Findings indicate that threats to their landscape also constitute threats to their self-understanding and their subjective notions of well-being, which are bound up in the meaning of their place. This case study demonstrates the additional insight that can come from contextualizing disaster risk in a way that acknowledges local people's subjective interpretations, priorities, and values. This is expected to be especially critical in cases where sacred or culturally significant landscapes are threatened by global environmental changes.

KW - Culture

KW - Glacial lake outburst floods

KW - Identity

KW - Place attachment

KW - Vulnerability

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85050397168&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85050397168&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.07.007

DO - 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.07.007

M3 - Article

VL - 52

SP - 190

EP - 200

JO - Global Environmental Change

JF - Global Environmental Change

SN - 0959-3780

ER -