Mountains of Risk: novel youth mobilities and transitioning rural precarity in the Indian Himalayas

Authors: Ritodhi Chakraborty*, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Migration, Mountain Environments
Keywords: youth, mobility, precarity, climate change, agrarian change, rural, masculinity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Himalayan region of India is undergoing a plethora of transitions. These include agrarian mechanization, road building, industrial investments and climate change. Most research has taken a top-down approach to understanding the capacities of human and ecological systems to survive this change. However, the more complex and nuanced fears associated with this flux in the region, related to the amplification of existing socio-political inequalities and a change in functioning of the current socio-ecological regimes have been largely ignored. In particular, these new cultural and economic configurations has aided populations – particularly young men – looking to leave their rural villages and move to towns and cities. Young men’s journeys from the village to the city and back have significant impacts, both for the rural communities they leave behind and the urban spaces they chose to inhabit. This project seeks to explore two interrelated questions. First, what role, if any, is this circular migration of young men playing in helping rural communities deal with these new assemblages of precarity in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand? The existing research on this topic is very sparse focusing primarily on the impact of monetary remittances on community wellbeing. Second, what role does new forms of mobility play in the lives of these young people? What impact does moving between rural, urban, and ‘in-between’ spaces have in terms of knowledge acquisition and formulation, opportunities for political and economic network formation and restructuring ideas of labor and masculinity?

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