"It's a conspiracy theory and climate change": Of beastly encounters and cervine disappearances in Himalayan India

Nayanika Mathur


This article traces the introduction of the category of climate change into the Indian Himalaya. Climate change emerged as an explanation for recurring incidences of humananimal conflict and the disappearance of a protected species through the labors of the local state bureaucracy. Even as the narratives on climate change were being imbued with expert authority, counternarratives dealing with the very same phenomena voiced by long-term residents of the Himalayas were summarily dismissed by the state as constituting mere conspiracy theories. This article accords both these narratives equal space and details the effects of the explanatory force of climate change in this region. On the basis of ethnography centered on humans, big cats, bears, and musk deer, it argues for an enhanced ethnographic attention to the political work done in the name of climate change. The article questions the analytic utility of the concept of the Anthropocene and ends by outlining certain distinctive characteristics of climate change as a concept and call to act upon the world.


climate change, conspiracy theory, human-animal relations, categorization, India

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.1.005