Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Duke University
Conserving (Non)violence: Animal Ethics, Political Struggle, and Wildlife Conservation in Tibet

In this project, I propose to understand the bourgeoning wildlife conservation in Tibet as a dynamic zone in which a pan-Tibetan ethics – centered on human-animal relations – is producing new understandings of politics and nascent forms of social life among Tibetans. This production is observable at the small scale of wildlife conservation in Tibetan villages: a site of interplay between animals, Tibetan conservationists, religious elites, surrounding villagers, parachuting Chinese environmentalists, as well as local state authorities, each of whom have different knowledge, stakes, and political concerns. Against this backdrop, my project asks: How does Tibetan grassroots wildlife conservation motivate a pan-Tibetan animal ethics that intervenes in interspecies relations, national identities, and forms of politics? How does this animal ethics, when at work, recalibrate accountabilities between human and animal species (Cavell et al. 2009, Keane 2016), as well as accountabilities regarding the Chinese state? What kind of new political forms, knowledges, and identities emerge in Tibetan grassroots wildlife conservation (Suzuki 2017, Haenn 2015)? These questions matter at a time when nonviolent national uprisings globally are foreclosed under new forms of state violence – mediated through nonhuman actors, infrastructure, and affect (Warner 2002, Masco 2014, Larkin 2013). Throughout, my project explores how Tibetans experience political struggles together with their surrounding animals, and how working with animals shapes Tibetan experiences of political struggle. My project aims to complicate anthropological understandings of (non)violence, as well as approach human-animal relations as anthropological method.