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International relations and the Himalaya: Connecting ecologies, cultures and geopolitics

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journal contribution
posted on 24.05.2021, 05:38 by Alexander Davis, Ruth Gamble, Gerald Roche, Lauren Gawne
This article examines international relations (IR)'s approach to the Himalaya. We argue that the possibility of violent conflict over contested international borders is not the region's primary international challenge. Rather, slow violence inflicted by state-building and militarisation, intimately connected to geopolitical tensions, threaten the region's ecologies, cultures and languages. The Himalaya is home to three biodiversity hotspots and a mosaic of ethnic groups, many of whom speak threatened languages. Its ice-deposits feed most of Asia's large rivers. In recent years, India and China have pursued large-scale infrastructure development in the region, enabling greater militarisation and extraction, and a tourist rush. These threats are amplified by climate change, which is occurring in the Himalaya at twice global averages, contributing to landslides, flooding, and droughts. However, the region's complexity is not matched by IR's theorisations, which overwhelmingly focus on the possibility of violent conflict between state actors. We argue that IR's analysis of the region must go beyond a states-and-security, Delhi-Beijing-Islamabad centred approach, to look at the numerous interconnections between its geopolitics, cultures and ecologies. We suggest this can be accomplished through incorporating more interdisciplinary analysis, and through focusing on the interaction between the organisation of political authority and the region's environment.

History

Publication Date

01/02/2021

Journal

Australian Journal of International Affairs

Volume

75

Issue

1

Pagination

21p. (p. 15-35)

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

ISSN

1035-7718

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The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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