Collection: The Bag and Beyond: Social Science and the Social Life of Plastic

Research

Piles of Plastic on Darkening Himalayan Peaks: Changing Cosmopolitics of ‘Pollution’ in Limi, Western Nepal

Authors:

Abstract

This article explores plastic and other non-compostable waste pollution in the Limi Valley, in Nepal’s impoverished Humla district along the northern-western Nepal border. The Himalaya currently undergoes rapid environmental transformation. Environmental degradation, disappearing glaciers and climate change-related floods are increasingly shaping its landscape. At the same time, motorable roads and telephone connections as well as new modes of governance are arriving to its remotest areas linking Limi to the expanding Chinese market (and to a lesser extent the Nepali and Indian ones) with the consequence that an increasing amount of plastic packaging, wrappings, containers and single-use plastic items (as well as non-degradable electronic items) are reaching these villages. This article argues that these new challenges can be best understood and addressed as part of cosmopolitical ecologies of the Himalaya. They require a significant number of decisions at multiple levels, involving different forms of knowledge and moral frameworks dealing with issues of causality, responsibility, prioritization and action. Arising out of an international project and a ‘stakeholders’ workshop as a ‘collaborative event’, this article offers an opportunity to reflect on the predicament of Himalayan people and contribute to the debate on non-compostable waste pollution as linked to a wide range of environmental challenges including those related to climate change. These issues intersect and compound requiring a wide spectrum of responses at different levels bringing together socio-economic, political and cosmological dimensions. Mediation by a wide range of operators, potentially understood as ‘cultural brokers’, turns out to be decisive in the design and implementation of any strategy.

Keywords:

waste managementHimalayaenvironmentdecision makingcosmologycosmopolitics
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 6
  • DOI: 10.5334/wwwj.62
  • Submitted on 30 Jul 2020
  • Accepted on 29 May 2021
  • Published on 9 Sep 2021
  • Peer Reviewed