Himalaya Bound: A Select Bibliography

February 15th, 2018

Following his vivid account of traveling with one of the last camel caravans on earth in Men of Salt, Michael Benanav now brings us along on a journey with a tribe of forest-dwelling nomads in India. Welcomed into a family of nomadic water buffalo herders, he joins them on their annual spring migration into the Himalayas. More than a glimpse into an endangered culture, this superb adventure explores the relationship between humankind and wild lands, and the dubious effect of environmental conservation on peoples whose lives are inseparably intertwined with the natural world. The migration Benanav embarked upon was plagued with problems, as government officials threatened to ban this nomadic family—and others in the Van Gujjar tribe—from the high alpine meadows where they had summered for centuries. Faced with the possibility that their beloved buffaloes would starve to death, and that their age-old way of life was doomed, the family charted a risky new course, which would culminating in an astonishing mountain rescue. And Benanav was arrested for documenting the story of their plight. Intimate and enthralling, Himalaya Bound paints a sublime picture of a rarely-seen world, revealing the hopes and fears, hardships and joys, of a people who wonder if there is still a place for them on this planet. Laced with stories of tribal cultures from India to Yellowstone, from Jordan to Kenya, Benanav deftly wends through the controversial terrain where Western ways of protecting the environment clash with indigenous understandings of nature. Himalaya Bound celebrates and mourns an ancient way of life, while revealing an unlikely battleground in the fight to save the earth. Michael will discuss Himalaya Bound on Thursday, February 22nd, 6pm at the Co-op.

Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India, by Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha - In addition to taking a critical look at the ways in which national parks and wildlife sanctuaries have impacted India's traditional forest dwellers, this book introduces and clarifies the concept of "ecosystem people" - those communities whose lives are inseparably intertwined with the natural world, and whose relationships with nature are interdependent, not merely exploitative.

Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks, by Mark David Spence - This work details the expulsion of Native Americans from national parks created in the United States, explaining both the history and the rationale behind the practice that became standard operating procedure for parks and wildlife sanctuaries worldwide.

About Michael Benanav: Michael Benanav is the author of three books, including Men Of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold, for which he traveled 1000 miles with one of the last working camel caravans on earth. His work, including articles and images from five continents, appears in The New York TimesThe Christian Science MonitorGeographical MagazineSierra MagazineLonely Planet, and more. He is also the founder of Traditional Cultures Project, an educational non-profit that documents traditional and indigenous cultures around the world. For more, visit his website at www.michaelbenanav.com.

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