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Austin Lord is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology whose research interests include disaster and aftermath, time and temporality, water and energy, the politics of climate change, risk and uncertainty, infrastructural politics, resilience thinking, borderland mobilities, environmental knowledge, and visual ethnography.
Austin's dissertation project focuses on the Langtang Valley of Nepal, where he examines the ways people experience and orient themselves within the tangled temporalities of aftermath, anticipation, and socio-environmental change that shape life in the wake of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake.
More specifically, his research analyzes the uneven contours of post-disaster recovery, the politics of resilience, the role of memorialization and memory work, infrastructural connection and rupture, disaster risk reduction programs, and the different ways that the impacts of climate change are known and understood. His work asks: What kinds of differently imagined pasts, presents, and futures are being 'built back better' in the wake of the 2015 disaster, and for whom? In what ways do the people of Langtang conceptualize recovery, resilience, and uncertainty? What might we learn from the ways that Langtangpas navigate the turbulent aftermath of disaster and rebuild their lives in an uncertain present shaped by a variety of differently imagined and unstable futures?
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, and an Engaged Cornell Graduate Student Research Grant, as well as several other grants and awards. His scholarship has been published in a variety of academic journals, including Economic Anthropology; Cultural Anthropology; Political Geography; Modern Asian Studies; Environment and Planning D: Society and Space; Eurasian Geography and Economics; Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies; Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (CSCW); and Limn.
Prior to joining Cornell, Austin has worked as a research consultant for a variety of organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 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's visual work has been featured in Photo Kathmandu, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and the Rubin Museum of Art, as well as a variety of print and online media including National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Outside, Nova, Himalaya, and Sage Magazine. A sample of his visual ethnographic work can be found at www.austinlord.com.
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.
earthquakes, avalanches, climate change, climate science, disaster studies, temporality, environmental anthropology, water and energy, infrastructure, science and technology studies, risk and uncertainty, resilience, memory, visual ethnography, Himalayan Studies
Peer Reviewed Publications
Murton, G. and Lord, A. (2019) Trans-Himalayan Power Corridors: Infrastructural Politics and China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal. Political Geography 77 (2020), 102100.
Lord, A. (2019) Turbulence. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Volumetric Sovereignty: A Forum (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.
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).
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. 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, eds. D. Thapa and A. Ramsbotham. London: Conciliation Resources.
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.
Visual Work & Exhibitions
A Time for Singing Again. (Forthcoming) Film. Director & Producer, in collaboration with Jennifer Bradley, Tsering Lama, Gyalpo Lama, and Jay Macmillan. 13 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.