Weathering relationships: the intra-action of people with climate in Himalayan India
Jerstad, Heid Maria
Weather – cold, wet, hot and windy – pervades life, material and social. So present and obvious as to provide a challenge for research, material though ephemeral too, weather breaks boundaries and refuses categorisation. While night becomes day, the cold season warms up over weeks and annual patterns are changing on a scale of years, practices in the face of weather transitions are themselves shifting. Based on ten months of fieldwork in the small village of Gau in the Pahari Indian Himalayas this thesis interrogates the saliencies and permeations of weather in people’s lives. It investigates how people intra-act (Barad 2007) with the weather, though practices, infrastructures and relationships with others. My approach argues for the validity of weather as a means by which to learn about socio-material lives. Pahari villagers live and act within the weather that moves around them. They are subject to, but also modify, their thermal environment. Through housing, clothing and tools such as the fire and the fan they affect the impact of the weather as it meets their bodies, but also daily patterns of movement are coloured by weather considerations. This work views weather in relation to health practices (such as refraining from working during the rain so as not to fall ill), for care of others (such as domestic bovines), for house-building and hospitable relationship-building among neighbours, for negotiation of landslide-fraught access roads to elsewhere and for understandings of pollution in the air. This focus on weather is intended to connect dots for people working on climate change, both within and beyond anthropology, and to contribute to discussions in areas including human-animal relations, health and illness and housing.