Austin Lord

Austin Lord
Cornell University | CU · Department of Anthropology

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

About

24
Publications
10,605
Reads
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287
Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on questions of disaster and aftermath, water and energy, infrastructural politics, climate change, and the lived experience of uncertainty in the Himalayan region. My dissertation project examines a) the ways that the people of Nepal’s Langtang Valley conceptualize recovery, resilience, and uncertainty while moving forward with their lives in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, and b) the ways that Langtangpas, planners, and scientists work to anticipate futures unknown.
Additional affiliations
September 2020 - January 2021
Cornell University
Position
  • Lecturer
Description
  • In the Fall semester of 2020, I taught a first-year writing seminar of my own design called 'Disasters & Climate Change: Writing for Troubled Times'. This course examined the sociocultural, political, temporal, and ethical dimensions of disasters and climate change through writing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this class was taught entirely online – with mostly synchronous instruction balanced with an array of asynchronous assignments and exercises focused on developing critical writing skills.
January 2014 - May 2014
Yale University
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • In the Spring semester of 2014, I served as the Teaching Fellow for Prof. Carol Carpenter's graduate-level seminar called ‘Advanced Readings in the Anthropology of Development & Conservation’ (ENVS 877/ANTH 598). This course traced the conceptual history of critical social science theories of conservation and development, focusing on theories of power, governmentality, subject creation, and political ecology.
Education
August 2016 - December 2021
Cornell University
Field of study
  • Anthropology
August 2011 - June 2014
Yale University
Field of study
  • Social & Political Ecology
September 2002 - June 2006
Dartmouth College
Field of study
  • Economics; Studio Art

Publications

Publications (24)
Article
Full-text available
In the aftermath of major natural disasters, governments, aid agencies, and affected populations engage in practices of sense-making to gauge the extent and severity of the crisis, direct response activities, and coordinate recovery planning. To understand the conduct and implications of these practices, we examined the official damage assessment i...
Article
Full-text available
For a collection on "Volumetric Sovereignty" edited by Franck Billé. Turbulence defines the swirling edges of our encounters with the sublime or uncanny of ‘inhuman nature’ (Serres, 2000; Clark, 2011): sediment-starved rivers changing course during floods, magmatic plumes beneath tectonic plates, hurricanes scouring coastlines and cities, or the p...
Article
This article examines the shifting dimensions of Chinese infrastructural aid in Nepal, focusing on the politics of anticipation and enunciation that shape Nepali perceptions of Chinese-facilitated development and negotiations concerning Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Drawing from ethnographic research focused on sites of ongoing and plan...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we review the existing social science scholarship focused on hydropower development in the Himalayan region, using an interpretive lens attuned to issues of time and temporality. While the spatial politics of Himalayan hydropower are well examined in the literature, an explicit examination of temporal politics is lacking. In this pap...
Preprint
Full-text available
This chapter considers the shifting contours of imaginative hydronationalist terrains enacted by events like the Power Summit, focusing on the recent popularization of “the shareholder model” of hydropower development in Nepal. Contemporary state ambitions to capitalize the hydropower frontier, we argue, are best understood through the speculative...
Research
Full-text available
In this edition, Samar SJB Rana interviews Galen Murton, and Austin Lord, on their article, ‘Trans-Himalayan power corridors: Infrastructural politics and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal’, published in Political Geography in 2019.
Article
Full-text available
https://culanth.org/fieldsights/immensity -- Kesang Tseten's 'Trembling Mountain' (2016) is a film about disorientation, uncertainty, uneven processes of reorientation, and the work it takes to make afterlives possible in Nepal. Tseten and his team follow the Langtangpas, the people of the Langtang Valley, from the early aftermath of the 2015 ear...
Article
Full-text available
Five years after the 25 April earthquake, fundamental questions about the time of disaster persist and recur. How and when does a disaster truly conclude, and for whom? In what ways do we navigate the tangled temporalities that shape the aftermath of disaster, or the multiple pasts of our present moment? The Langtangpa have a great deal to teach us...
Technical Report
This document was prepared in the wake of the Karnali River Scientific Expedition of Fall 2018, organized by the Nepal River Conservation Trust, to examine the different possibilities for conserving the Karnali River, as well as the aquatic species and cultural practices that a flowing Karnali supports. This report includes several strategic recomm...
Chapter
Full-text available
Chapter
Full-text available
In Nepal, the imagined hydropower future pervades the uncertain present. This paper examines the ways that 2015 Nepal earthquake prompted a reconfiguration of this imagined future and its economy of anticipation (Adams et al., 2009; Cross, 2015), focusing on the increasing importance of ‘capitalist technologies of imagination’ (Bear, 2015) used to...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we reflect on the multiple nature of our engagements in the wake of the 7.8m earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th 2015. Specifically, we trace the events, experiences, decisions, positions, and processes that constituted our work with a post-earthquake volunteer initiative we helped to form, called Rasuwa Relief. Using the co...
Article
This review article provides a reading guide to scholarly literature published in English about Nepal's political transformation since 2006, when Nepal's decade-long civil conflict between Maoist and state forces formally ended. The article is structured around four major themes: (1) the Maoist insurgency or ‘People's War’; (2) state formation and...
Article
This article examines contemporary patterns of Chinese infrastructure development in Nepal’s Rasuwa District and the ways in which Nepali actors engage with Chinese investments to advance projects of state formation. Particularly in the wake of political volatility and natural disaster, Chinese interventions support the material and imaginative pro...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report, written for the United Nations Development Programme in Nepal, empirically assesses the contemporary landscape of disability in Nepal, with a focus on the unique challenges faced by persons with disabilities (PwDs) in the wake of the earthquakes that devastated Nepal in April and May of 2015. Based on research conducted by a team from...
Article
Some forty-nine days after the earthquake of April 25, the people of the Langtang Valley gathered for a ghewa ceremony, the Tibetan Buddhist funerary practice that helps accumulate virtue to guide the souls of the deceased during the process of reincarnation. Inside the monastery 176 statues, each representing someone from the Langtang Valley who d...
Article
In April 2015, Nepal was in the early stages of ambitious plans to develop its significant hydropower potential when the earthquakes inflicted substantial damage on the country’s existing hydropower infrastructure. Many power plants went temporarily offline, and major repairs will be necessary in the coming months. Overall, the hydropower industry...
Article
Full-text available
This essay focuses ethnographic attention on changing patterns of subjectivity, livelihood, and agency co-arising within the production of Nepal's imagined hydropower future. As the projects and processes of hydropower development proliferate across the physical and human geographies of Nepal they produce many different kinds of risk and opportunit...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report assesses the outcomes, benefits, and challenges resulting from the programmatic construction of six micro-hydropower projects in Lamjung district of Central Nepal, which was supported by Lutheran World Relief working in partnership the local NGO-Partner COPPADES. This report is based on an ethnographic study conducted during August 2014...

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