BioAmbika Aiyadurai is Assistant Professor in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar (India). Her research focuses on the dynamics of human-animal relationship in the Indian Himalayas. She holds a PhD (Anthropology) from National University of Singapore. Her thesis revolves around the politics of wildlife conservation in the borderlands of Arunachal Pradesh (India). She holds a dual Masters in Anthropology, Environment and Development from University College London, UK and in Wildlife Sciences from Wildlife Institute of India. Ambika’s ongoing and long term research aims are to understand people-nature relations and how local and global forces shape these relations leading to collaborations and conflicts among different interest groups.
The project aims to examine the impact of globalization on human-animal relations in three Asian countries. I aim to understand how ideas of conservation of biodiversity are transferred from transnational NGOs to the regional and local/village-level institutions that shape relations between humans and animals. The project will explore historical connections of trade, flow of natural resources and ideas of nature conservation and compare them with the contemporary pathways. Emphasis will be on how the local partners and rural communities respond to the transnational ideas of the biodiversity conservation that flows into Asia, which are continuously reorganized as sites for economic investments. To gain country-specific knowledge, the project will focus on human-animal relations and will be carried out in three Asian countries, viz. India, China and Bhutan. Anthropological fieldwork will be carried out among the local indigenous communities, NGOs, state, activists and academic communities. Key methods include interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. This study will offer important insights in understanding how global forces affect the local communities and impact their relations with animals. This project is envisaged as an interdisciplinary exercise that will start discussions and debates between anthropologists, historians, biologists, geographers and philosophers.