Home
This Title All WIREs
WIREs RSS Feed
How to cite this WIREs title:
WIREs Water
Impact Factor: 4.451

The materiality of ethics: Perspectives on water and reciprocity in a Himalayan Anthropocene

Full article on Wiley Online Library:   HTML PDF

Can't access this content? Tell your librarian.

Abstract In the Himalayas, water is seen by some as intricately linked to humans and produced through ethical actions. Its materiality, as a lack or excess of rain or snow, as healthy or receding ice, as destructive hail or flash flood, is a reflection of humans' moral attitude and an outcome of a process of reciprocity that links humans to nonhumans, the land, and divine beings. This perspective departs from the conception of water seen through development projects and from studies about climate change, which tend to objectify water through an epistemology that isolates nature from culture. Water as the materiality of ethics is examined by drawing on cases from Ladakh and Zanskar in the Himalayas and by reviewing studies from other parts of the Himalayas. In particular, water as the materiality of ethics is analyzed through three perspectives: how water is produced as people interact with a sacred geography, how snowy peaks are produced as objects of morality through affective attachment and encounters, and how water is produced as part of multispecies assemblages. A review of an ontology of water defined by reciprocity is important considering the significant changes currently taking place in the Himalayas and which are brought about by climate change and state production through large‐scale development projects. It can enrich our understanding of their implications for the cultural life of the often marginalized peoples of the Himalayas and contribute to narratives about the Anthropocene. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented Human Water > Rights to Water
Fields in the village of Stongdey, many of which are left uncultivated. Photo by author
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
A man and his horse, standing in front of the Lalung Glacier, which has receded dramatically. Photo by Josianne Robichaud
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
The Drang Drung Glacier, which overlooks the pastures of Pentse La, on a cloudy day. Photo by author
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
A lha tho in Zanskar. Photo by author
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
Sani Kangyur at Sani Monastery in Zanskar. The ritual is performed every summer for the prosperity of the community, including the farming season. Photo by author
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
A monk in Ladakh is performing a ritual because a klu khang—a small stone altar, which is a temple for the klu—is being moved for the construction of a building. Photo by author
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]
The Yarab Tso in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, which is considered sacred. Photo by Jigmat Lundup
[ Normal View | Magnified View ]

Browse by Topic

Human Water > Rights to Water
Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented

Access to this WIREs title is by subscription only.

Recommend to Your
Librarian Now!

The latest WIREs articles in your inbox

Sign Up for Article Alerts