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Austin Lord is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology whose research examines the lived experience of disaster and aftermath, questions of time and temporality, political ecologies of the water-energy nexus, infrastructural politics, the impacts of climate change and climate science, and the construction of environmental knowledge and socioenvironmental uncertainty in the Himalayan region.
Austin's dissertation research focuses on the afterlives of disaster in the Langtang Valley of Nepal – where a massive co-seismic avalanche occurred during the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Drawing from over five years of research and volunteer work, his work carefully examines the ways that the Langtangpas conceptualize recovery, resilience, and uncertainty as they seek to rebuild their lives in the wake of an unthinkable disaster. His ethnographic analysis focuses on the ways that Langtangpas orient themselves within the overlapping timescapes of disaster and aftermath, intergenerational change, memory work, socio-environmental relations, and cycles of death and rebirth. His scholarship is guided by a commitment to multimodal and collaborative processes of knowledge production that includes photography, mapmaking, ethnographic filmmaking, and the community-engaged archival work of the Langtang Memory Project.
Austin has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship, a U.S. Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship, a Lemelson Fellowship from the Society for Visual Anthropology, an Engaged Cornell Research Grant, and several other grants and awards. His scholarship has been published in Economic Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology; Political Geography; WIREs Water; Modern Asian Studies; Environment and Planning D: Society and Space; Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies; Eurasian Geography and Economics; Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (CSCW), and Limn.
Over the years, Austin's visual and curatorial work has been showcased in exhibitions at Photo Kathmandu, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and the Rubin Museum of Art, as well as featured in a variety of print and online media including National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Outside, NOVA, Himalaya, Glacier Hub, and Sage Magazine. He has also directed or produced a variety of short documentary and ethnographic films focused on the Langtang Valley.
Outside of academia, Austin has worked as a consultant for a variety of organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Paani Program of USAID Nepal, and Lutheran World Relief. In the wake of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, he served for two years as the Director of the volunteer initiative Rasuwa Relief and he continues to lead a collaborative post-disaster archival effort called The Langtang Memory Project.
Austin holds a Master of Environmental Science (MESc) from Yale University and a B.A. in Economics and Studio Art from Dartmouth College.
Link to Current CV.
disasters, time and temporality, water and energy, earthquakes, avalanches, risk and uncertainty, infrastructure, memory work, climate change, climate science, environmental anthropology, science and technology studies, visual ethnography, Himalayan Studies
Lord, A. & Bradley, J. (in press) Gathering Absences and Presences: Memory Work, Photography, and Affective Recovery in the Langtang Valley. In Hutt, M., Lotter, S. and Liechty, M. (Eds.), Epicentre to Aftermath: Rebuilding and Remembering in the Wake of Nepal’s Earthquakes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Lord, A. & Rest, M. (in press) Nepal’s Water, the People’s Investment? Hydropolitical Volumes and Speculative Refrains. In Loloum, T., Abram, S., and Ortar, N. (Eds.), Ethnographies of Power: A Political Anthropology of Energy. Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books.
Lord, A., Drew, G., & Gergan, M.D. (2020) Timescapes of Himalayan Hydropower: Promises, Project Life Cycles, and Precarity. WIREs Water 7 (6), e1469.
Murton, G. and Lord, A. (2020) Trans-Himalayan Power Corridors: Infrastructural Politics and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal. Political Geography 77, 102100.
Lord, A. (2019) Turbulence. Volumetric Sovereignty: A Forum. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (Online). March 17, 2019.
Lord, A. (2018) Speculation and Seismicity: Reconfiguring the Hydropower Future in Post-Earthquake Nepal. Water, Technology and the Nation State, Eds. F. Menga & E. Swyngedouw. London: Routledge Earthscan.
Soden, R. & Lord, A. (2018) Mapping Silences, Reconfiguring Loss: Practices of Damage Assessment & Repair in Post-Earthquake Nepal. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 2, CSCW, Article 161, November 2018.
Lord, A. (2017) Humility and Hubris in Hydropower. Limn, Vol 9 (Online).
Lord, A. and Murton, G. (2017) Becoming Rasuwa Relief: Practices of Multiple Engagement in Post-Earthquake Nepal. HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies 37(2), pp. 87-102.
Murton, G., Lord, A., and Beazley, R. (2016) “A Handshake Across the Himalayas": Chinese Investment, Hydropower Development, and State Formation in Nepal. Eurasian Geography and Economics 57(3), pp. 403-432.
Lord, A. (2016) Citizens of a Hydropower Nation: Territory and Agency at the Frontiers of Hydropower Development in Nepal. Economic Anthropology 3(1), pp. 145–160.
Shneiderman, S., Wagner, L., Rinck, J., Johnson, A.L., and Lord, A. (2016) Nepal's Ongoing Political Transformation: A Review of Post-2006 Literature on Conflict, the State, Identities, and Environments. Modern Asian Studies 50(6), pp. 2041-2114.
Rest, M., Lord, A., and Butler, C. (2015) The Damage Done and the Dams to Come. Cultural Anthropology website, Hotspots. October 19, 2015.
Lord, A. (2015) Langtang. Cultural Anthropology website, Hotspots. October 19, 2015.
Lord, A. (2014) Making a "Hydropower Nation": Subjectivity, Work, and Mobility in the Hydroscapes of Nepal. HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal & Himalayan Studies, 34(2), pp. 111-121.
Professional Research Publications
Lord, A. & Bennett, K. (2019) Strategic Considerations for River Conservation Legislation in Nepal. USAID Paani Program / Nepal River Conservation Trust: Kathmandu.
Lord, A., Sijapati, B., Baniya, J., Chand, O., and Ghale, T. (2016) Disaster, Disability, & Difference: A Study of the Challenges Faced by Persons with Disabilities in Post-Earthquake Nepal. Kathmandu: United Nations Development Programme.
Shrestha, P., Lord, A., Shrestha, R., and Mukherji, A. (2016) Benefit Sharing and Sustainable Hydropower: Lessons from Nepal. International Center for Integrated Mountain Development: Kathmandu.Other Publications
Lord, A. (2020) The Courage and Endurance of the Langtangpa. Nepali Times, April 25, 2020.
Lord, A. and Moktan, S. (2017) Uncertain Aftermath: The Political Impacts of the 2015 Earthquakes in Nepal. Chapter in ACCORD Issue 26: Two Steps Forward One Step Back: The Nepal Peace Process, pp. 128-132. eds. D. Thapa and A. Ramsbotham. London: Conciliation Resources.
Lord, A. (2017) 水电国公民：尼泊尔水利发展前沿中的地域性与能动性 [Translation of Lord, A. 2016. ‘Citizens of a Hydropower Nation: Territory and Agency at the Frontiers of Hydropower Development in Nepal’ in Economic Anthropology]. Book Chapter in 环喜马拉雅区域研究编译 文集 Vol.1——环境、生计与文化 or Trans-Himalayan Study Reader, Vol. 1: Environment, Livelihood and Culture. Eds. D.S. Yu, L. Yunxia, and Z. Li. Beijing: Academy Press.
Lord, A. (2017) Review of ‘Trembling Mountain’, by Kesang Tseten (Shunyata Films, 2017).” HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies 37(2), Article 26.
Visual Work & Exhibitions
A Time for Singing Again. (Forthcoming) Film. Director & Producer, in collaboration with Gyalpo Lama, Jennifer Bradley, and Tsering Lama,. 43 min.
Langtang Goreypaya. (Forthcoming) Film. Director & Producer, in collaboration with Gyalpo Lama. 28 min.
'Sempa Tserah, Kipu Sho': Memory and Post-Disaster Recovery in the Langtang Valley. (2018) Multi-Media Exhibition. Co-Curator with collaborators from the Langtang Memory Project. Photo Kathmandu (3rd Edition). Kathmandu, Nepal. Oct-Nov 2018.
Slow-Medicine in Fast Times: Traditional Tibetan Medicine in Post-Earthquake Nepal. (2016) Film. Co-Producer, with Sienna Craig. Film by Nathaniel and Amanda Needham, 16 min.
Images of the Nepal Earthquake. (2016) Exhibition. Co-Curator. The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. Hanover, New Hampshire, USA. Feb–July 2016.
Langtang: Tragedy and Circular Time. (2016) Photographic Exhibition. Artist. The Russo Gallery at the Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College. Hanover, New Hampshire, USA. Feb–Sept 2016.
Nepal’s Hard Rock Café. (2016) Film. Producer, Film by Nathaniel and Amanda Needham. 4 min. Featured at Al Jazeera Online.
Langtang Means Home. (2016). Exhibition. Co-Curator. Exhibition of the Langtang Community ‘Photovoice’ Project at the Taragaon Museum, Boudha, Kathmandu. March–May 2016.
The Earthquake and the Image. (2015). Event. Photo Kathmandu (PhotoKTM). Kathmandu, Nepal. Nov 2015.
Making a Hydropower Nation. (2014). Photographic Essay in HIMALAYA (online). Published October 2014.