The Australian Himalaya Research Network is a group of Himalaya-focused researchers working across universities in Australia. Our research examines the combined challenges of nationalism, state-making, cultural transformation, environmental destruction and the minoritization of Himalayan people. The Himalaya faces enormous challenges. It is too often analysed from the narrow nationalist perspectives. It is the site of militarization and competitive development between its dominant states, India, China and Pakistan. It’s watershed provides water to half of humanity. It is the site of enormous linguistic and cultural diversity, which is under threat. As such, our research is informed by opposition to oppression and environmental destruction.


The La Trobe Asia Brief

Melting Opportunities:
Managing climate change and conflict in the Himalaya

Alexander E. Davis, Ruth Gamble, Sonika Gupta, Anwesha Dutta and Gerald Roche

Image: Jaswant Garh War Memorial, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India. The mountains of Tibetan Autonomous Region (PRC) can be seen in the background (Ruth Gamble).


Who we are


Alexander E Davis is a lecturer in International Relations at The University of Western Australia. Alex’s research looks at international relations from historical, critical and postcolonial perspectives, particularly in South Asia. He is the author of the research monograph India and the Anglosphere: Race, Identity and Hierarchy in International Relations. He is also lead author of a forthcoming disciplinary history of IR in the white settler colonies and India, with Vineet Thakur and Peter Vale (Pluto Press, 2020). His current research focuses on colonial legacies in India’s borderlands, particularly the Indian Ocean and the Himalaya. He tweets at @DrAlexEDavis.


Ruth Gamble is a Lecturer in History at La Trobe University. She is an environmental and cultural historian of Tibet and the Himalaya. She is the author of Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism; the Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition (Oxford University Press, New York, 2018) traces the links between Tibet’s reincarnation lineages and its sacred geography.


Georgina Drew is a senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Adelaide. Her research looks studies environmental anthropology and the critical anthropology of development. She is particularly interested in struggles over resource use and management in South Asia and in the Himalaya more broadly. She focuses on the cultural and religious politics that shape resource management decisions, and the challenge of inclusive and culturally sensitive resource use.


Mona Chettri is an Australia-India Institute Next Generation Network Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, Perth. She is the author of Constructing Democracy: Ethnicity and Democracy in the eastern Himalaya (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017) and has published widely on urbanisation, ethnicity, politics and development in the eastern Himalayan borderland with a special focus on Sikkim and Darjeeling. Her current research focuses on gender, labour, migration, urbanisation and infrastructure in Sikkim, India. 


Gerald Roche is an anthropologist, and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Politics, Media, and Philosophy at La Trobe University. His research focuses on the politics of language in Tibet, China, and the Himalayas. He recently edited the Routledge handbook of Language Revitalization (with Leanne Hinton and Leena Huss). You can find him on Twitter: @GJosephRoche.


Lauren Gawne is a Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics. Lauren’s research focuses on evidentiality and gesture. with a speciality in Tibeto-Burman languages. Lauren’s current work is with Tibetan varieties spoken in Nepal. Her research is underpinned by an interest in critical approaches to research data and language documentation. 


James Leibold is Associate Professor of politics and Asian studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and Head of the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy. He is the author of over thirty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on ethnicity, race and nationalism in modern China. His books include Minority Education in China, co-edited with Chen Yangbin (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2014); Ethnic Policy in China (Honolulu: East-West Centre, 2013); Critical Han Studies, co-edited with Thomas Mullaney, Stéphane Gros, and Eric Vanden Bussche (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012); Reconfiguring Chinese nationalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). His recent articles include “The Spectre of Insecurity: The CCP’s Mass Interment Strategy in Xinjiang,” China Leadership Monitor 58; “Surveillance in China’s Xinjiang Region: Ethnic sorting, coercion, and inducement,” The Journal of Contemporary China; “Securitizing Xinjiang: Police Recruitment, informal policing and ethnic minority co-optation,” The China Quarterly (with Adrian Zenz).


Duncan McDuie-Ra is Professor of Urban Sociology at the University of Newcastle. His current research focuses on digital urbanism in ‘low-tech’ and remote environments, including smart cities scheme and Artificial Intelligence. Most of his previous research has focused on South Asia, particularly the borderlands of Northeast India, with collaborative work in other contexts. His most recent sole-authored books include Northeast Migrants in Delhi: Race, Refuge and Retail (Amsterdam University Press, 2012), Debating Race in Contemporary India (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015) and Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway (Amsterdam University Press, 2016). His work has appeared in journals such as Area, Development and Change, Geographical Journal, Political Geography, GeoforumUrban StudiesEnergy PolicyMen and Masculinities, and Violence Against Women among others. His forthcoming books include Ceasefire City: Militarism, Capitalism and Urbanism (Oxford University Press, coauthored with Dolly Kikon, 2020) and the sole-authored Skateboarding and Urban Landscapes in 21st Century Asia: Endless Spots (Amsterdam University Press—under contract). 


Dolly Kikon is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social and Political Science, The University of Melbourne. She has worked for over twenty years on the experiences of militarization, state violence, land rights, extractive regimes, developmental issues, and gender justice in India. She has written widely on subjects relating to governance, environmental justice, political economy, citizenship, human rights, indigenous movements, resource conflicts, and social movements. She is the author of, most recently, Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics & Militarization in Northeast India (University of Washington Press 2019 and Yoda Press India, 2020). Her current research focuses on cultures of fermentation in the Himalayan region including India.


Stephen Morey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University. He is the author of two books (and multiple articles) on tribal languages in Assam, from both Tai-Kadai and Tibeto-Burman families. His research work has been on language documentation with a particular focus on traditional songs and ritual language. He is the secretary of the North East Indian Linguistics Society and has been co-editor for all 8 volumes of the series North East Indian Linguistics. He also researches and has written on the Aboriginal languages of Victoria, Australia.


Trent Brown is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Farmers, Subalterns, and Activists: Social Politics of Sustainable Agriculture in India (Cambridge University Press, 2018). He has written on a variety of topics related to contemporary India, including sustainable rural development, social movements, youth, and migration.


Jane Dyson is a lecturer in Social Geography & Development Geography at the University of Melbourne. Her research examines gender, work, and social transformation in the Indian Himalayas from the perspective of social geography, cultural anthropology and development studies. She is the author of Working Childhoods: Youth, Agency and the Environment in India (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She has also directed and produced two award-winning ethnographic films: Lifelines (2014, lifelinesfilm.com) and Spirit (2019, spiritdocumentary.com).