• Shifting Village: The Labor of Making and Remaking Lubrak
    Dane Carlson, Sonam Lama & Yungdrung Tsewang

Sonam Lama, Field Defenses, 2022, Lubrak, Nepal.

In the high desert of Nepal’s Mustang region, settlements shift as climate change makes ancestral lands increasingly uninhabitable. Dhey and Samdzong gradually move to new sites nearer perennial rivers as glacial retreat and declining snowfall lead to the disappearance of mountain streams. In Lubra, a river swollen by increasing rainfall washes away fields and homes. Will the village slowly relocate uphill, or to a different site altogether? These questions face communities across the Himalayas; many address them by doing the work of making and remaking themselves in response to climate upheaval. Through field work with the landscape makers of Lubra—tenant farmers, landowners, migrant herders, priests—Shifting Village examines the labor shaping Lubrak. This research argues that continual remaking and the agencies that form it are central to continued life amidst the breakdowns of climate crisis.

Dane Carlson is a landscape designer and researcher. He is currently assistant professor at Principia College. His practice, REALMS, examines possibilities for response to climate crisis in Nepal by centering landscape relations, knowledge, and practice unfolding on the ground. Ongoing collaborations include work with Practice Landscape and United Nations Office for Project Services, the latter focusing on the design of open ended landscape infrastructures made by land based knowledge networks. His published work is featured in the Journal of Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architecture Frontiers, and Landscape Research Journal. His work as Fulbright scholar in Nepal (2017–18) examined patterns of landscape change across the villages of lower Mustang.

Sonam Lama is an architect and designer from the Tsum Valley in Nepal. He was a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds degrees in architecture and sustainable emergency design. Lama has been active in the design and construction of earthquake resilient structures using traditional building methods in his native Tsum, particularly following Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes.

Yungdrung Tsewang is from Lubra village. He works as a research associate studying migration and climate change in the Himalayas, focusing specifically on Lower Mustang, Nepal. Tsewang holds a degree in zoology and has worked as an assistant conservationist with the Annapurna Conservation Area Project. He has also been a joint researcher for several projects in Lower Mustang, including “Citizenship, Territory, and Religiosity in Nepal’s State of Transformation” with the University of British Columbia.