Regional geopolitical processes have turned the Himalayan region of Ladakh, in northwest India, into a strategic border area with an increasing military presence that has decentered the traditional agropastoralist economy. This in turn has led to social fragmentation, the growing isolation of elders, and ethical dilemmas for individuals who strive to care for traditional subsistence activities. Concurrently, climate change is causing glaciers―an important source of life within the region―to recede, which elders perceive as the consequence of a broken bond with the natural environment and the deities that inhabit the landscape.
Caring for Glaciers looks on the causes and consequences of ongoing social and cultural change in peoples’ relationship with the natural environment. It illuminates how relations of reciprocity – learned through on a regular basis life and work within the mountains with the animals, glaciers, and deities that form Ladakh’s sacred geography – shape and nurture an ethics of care. Integrating recent studies of impact, landscape, and multispecies anthropology, Caring for Glaciers contributes to the anthropology of ethics by examining the moral order that develops throughout the embodied experience of life and work within the Himalayas.