Kinship, Care and Attunement to Stories: Himalayan Lives between Nepal and New York City
Sienna Craig, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College
Thursday, April 22, 2021
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Meeting ID: 923 9917 5296
For centuries, people from Mustang, Nepal, have relied on agriculture, pastoralism, and trade as a way of life. Seasonal migrations to South Asian cities for trade as well as temporary wage labor abroad and Mustang-based tourism have shaped their experiences for decades. Yet, more recently, permanent migrations to New York City are reshaping lives and social worlds. Mustang has experienced one of the highest rates of depopulation in contemporary Nepal – a profoundly visible transformation that contrasts with the relative invisibility of Himalayan migrants in New York. Drawing on more than two decades of fieldwork with people in and from Mustang, The Ends of Kinship: Connecting Himalayan Lives between Nepal and New York, the book on which this presentation is based, combines narrative ethnography and short fiction to engage with foundational questions in cultural anthropology: How do different generations abide with and understand each other? How are traditions defended and transformed in the context of new mobilities? Craig draws on khora – Tibetan Buddhist concepts of cyclic existence as well as the daily contemplative act of circumambulating the sacred – to theorize cycles of movement and patterns of world-making, shedding light on how kinship remains both firm and flexible in the face of migration. From a high Himalayan kingdom to the streets of Brooklyn and Queens, The Ends of Kinship asks how individuals, families, and communities care for each other and carve out spaces of belonging in and through diaspora, at the nexus of environmental, economic, and cultural change. This presentation will also touch on the ways that COVID-19 is impacting Mustang lives from Nepal to New York, and how Himalayan cultural practices and Tibetan Buddhist philosophies are shaping their responses to this pandemic.