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The Gaddi Beyond Pastoralism

The Gaddi Beyond Pastoralism: Making Place in the Indian Himalayas

Anja Wagner
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 214
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  • Book Info
    The Gaddi Beyond Pastoralism
    Book Description:

    The Gaddi of North India are agro-pastoralists who rear sheep and goats following a seasonal migration around the first Himalayan range. While studies on pastoralists have focused either on the pastoralists' adaptation to their physical environment or treated the environment from a symbolic perspective, this book offers a new, holistic perspective that analyzes the ways in which people "make" place. Based on extensive fieldwork, this book not only describes a contemporary understanding of the Gaddi's engagement with the environment but also analyzes religious practices and performances of social relations, as well as media practices and notions of aesthetics. Thereby, the landscape in which the Gaddi live is understood as a network of places that is constantly being built and rebuilt through these local practices. The book contributes to the growing interest in approaches of practice within environmental anthropology.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-930-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Biological Sciences, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Note on Transliteration and Spelling
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    One day during my fieldwork, I was walking back from a day of work in the fields with a woman of the family I was staying with. It was a bright sunny day. As we walked up the road to the house, we faced the Dhauladhar Mountains, which stood out clearly against the November sky. Looking at the mountains, I asked if then, as previously in May and June, people would be going up to temples in the mountains on small pilgrimages. No, she replied, at least not many. It would be cold up there. Remember, she asked me, when...

  8. 1 The Study of Environment Reconsidered
    (pp. 10-24)

    To take the study of the Gaddi beyond pastoralism does not only indicate a shift in the ethnographic focus to include nonpastoralist practices, but as a program for the present work, its title also implies a going beyond established approaches in a least two further ways: First, to reconsider the definition of environment in terms of a critique of a nature-society dualism. Second, to overcome an interrelated dualism prevalent in the study of pastoralist groups that links a naturalistic understanding of environment with the study of adaptation strategies and a cultural approach to environment with the study of ideological representations....

  9. 2 The Gaddi in Images
    (pp. 25-38)

    My first contact with Gaddi took place through music video CDs (VCDs). I started my research and fieldwork preparations from Chandigarh, where I lived with a family, themselves from Himachal Pradesh, although they were Pahari speakers and not from the Kangra district. While staying in Chandigarh, I accompanied my hosts on visits to their relatives and friends, most of whom were also Himachalis living and working in Chandigarh permanently, albeit maintaining their connections to Himachal. After explaining that I was preparing to go to Himachal to research Gaddi culture, the hosts in the majority of cases responded by telling me...

  10. 3 A Sheep for Shiva
    (pp. 39-64)

    The god Shiva is highly important for the construction of a Gaddi identity and religious practices. The Shiva narrative can be seen as an overarching mythology both in respect to identity constructions and to conceptualizations of place since Shiva in local understanding is intimately connected to both the Gaddi community and the region of Bharmaur. The god Shiva is one of the great Hindu gods who, together with Brahma and Vishnu, is commonly considered to form the Hindu trinity. Shiva is generally known for his ambivalent or dual character. In her examination of the Puranas, Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty calls “the...

  11. 4 Doing Kinship, Doing Place
    (pp. 65-92)

    Kinship plays a crucial part in guiding people through the landscape of the Dhauladhar—that is, through their specific network of places. By enacting kinship relations, people also enact places. In emphasizing the connection between social relations and place-making I am concerned with notions of belonging and conceptualizations of place as well as the practical activities through which these human-place relation come into being among the Gaddi. Specific to the Gaddi is the practice of seasonal migration.

    Gaddi people often comment that what characterizes being Gaddi is beingchemahīne(six months). Beingchemahīnerefers to the life-style of seasonal migration,...

  12. 5 Walking
    (pp. 93-99)

    In chapter 4 I have shown that enactments of kinship and place often lead people to move through their environment between summer and winter or residential and ancestral villages, between natal and marital homes, or between houses of relatives. Chapter 6 extends the idea of doing kinship and place to include places of deities and respective movements for visiting these places. Through these visits and further activities, place-networks are created and extended. Since practices of visiting places often involve physical movement in the mountains, it is through walking that place-networks come into being. Accordingly, chapter 5 briefly reflects on the...

  13. 6 Visiting the Deities, Enacting the Mountains
    (pp. 100-136)

    In this chapter, I turn to places, deities, and religious practices that lead people into the mountains. I take up Ingold’s perspective on environment as processual—or as coming into being through activities—and accordingly look at movements in the environment inherent to religious practices.

    Religious aspects of the environment have often been discussed under the heading of sacred landscapes in the anthropological and religious study literature on India (cf. Eck 1981, 1998b; Gutschow et al. 2003). In the following, I prefer the term powerful or holy, since sacred, at least since Durkheim, has borne the notion of being opposed...

  14. 7 Environment and the Body: Understanding Water Change
    (pp. 137-151)

    The problem I am concerned with in this chapter can be summarized as follows: For someone traveling between different places, (some) illness or health-related problems are attributed to the water consumed at the new place. Water is emphasized in local discourse as the vehicle through which the change in place is experienced. It is more or less axiomatic that the change in the local water invariably experienced by the traveler can have adverse effects on his or her health. The phenomenon is that of “water change,” as the young woman assisting me during the initial stage of my fieldwork said...

  15. 8 Cool Water, Short Green Grass, and Fir Trees: The Aesthetics of Environment
    (pp. 152-172)

    This last chapter is concerned with environmental aesthetics, foremost in the perception of places and landscapes. The focus on aesthetics takes up Casey’s statement that places are sensed—that is, experienced through the body, which is both emplaced and an active agent in a place (Casey 1996: 34). This reinforces the argument that place-making also occurs through practical activities in—and therefore physical experience of—a place. As Ingold writes:

    A place owes its character to the experiences it affords to those who spend time there—to the sights, sounds and indeed smells that constitute its specific ambience. And these,...

  16. Conclusion: Doing Place
    (pp. 173-177)

    In this book I approached the understanding of environment through an analysis of place-making. The aim was to redescribe human-environment relations among the Gaddi in terms of a symmetric anthropology and in doing so to highlight contemporary practices and activities through which environment is performed. The focus on place-making traces involvements of concepts, practices, narratives, and perceptions that make places meaningful in a given context. Places are not understood as abstract, objectively given categories. They are enacted by people who dwell in them, visit them, and connect to them in a meaningful way. Places, in short, are done.

    The role...

  17. Appendix: Songs and Translations
    (pp. 178-181)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 182-188)
  19. References
    (pp. 189-198)
  20. Index
    (pp. 199-202)