Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines the opposition farmers of Zanskar in the Indian Himalayas have against exterminating agricultural pests, an opposition that represents an act of care. In the past two decades, the region of Zanskar has experienced recurring locust infestations. This phenomenon is inscribed in a temporality referred to as afa tama, or the last era, and is also marked by the recession of glaciers and a decrease in snowfall, which, like the presence of locusts, have significant impacts on the local agriculture. While officials of the Agricultural Department of India are forcing farmers to eradicate the locusts through the use of pesticides, the affective context of afa tama, an era that has much qualitative resonance with the Anthropocene, brings many to reject this intervention. Beyond the observation of a normative prescription of Buddhism towards living beings, this resistance is, I maintain, linked to transformative ambitions. While preserving the lives of locusts is detrimental to humans, it constitutes an act of love inspired by a desire to restore a reciprocal relation between people and the land, the fraying of which is central to afa tama.