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Dolpo is a culturally Tibetan enclave in one of Nepal's most remote regions. The Dolpo-pa, or people of Dolpo, share language, religious and cultural practices, history, and a way of life. Agro-pastoralists who live in some of the highest villages in the world, the Dolpo-pa wrest survival from this inhospitable landscape through a creative combination of farming, animal husbandry, and trade.
High Frontiers is an ethnography and ecological history of Dolpo tracing the dramatic transformations in the region's socioeconomic patterns. Once these traders passed freely between Tibet and Nepal with their caravans of yak to exchange salt and grains; they relied on winter pastures in Tibet to maintain their herds. After 1959, China assumed full control over Tibet and the border was closed, restricting livestock migrations and sharply curtailing trade. At the same time, increasing supplies of Indian salt reduced the value of Tibetan salt, undermining Dolpo's economic niche. Dolpo's agro-pastoralists were forced to reinvent their lives by changing their migration patterns, adopting new economic partnerships, and adapting to external agents of change. The region has been transformed as a result of the creation of Nepal's largest national park, the making of Himalaya, a major motion picture filmed on location, the increasing presence of nongovernmental organizations, and a booming trade in medicinal products. High Frontiers examines these transformations at the local level and speculates on the future of pastoralism in this region and across the Himalayas.
are alleged to have perished. The mediation by neutral village headmen was only partly successful and relations between the villages remained tense. The people themselves claimed that the incident was unprecedented, and it is fair to assume that it would never have occurred without the general disruption of pastoral life caused by the invasion of Dolpo by multitudes of Tibetan refugees and their cattle.” 53. The policies and actions that the Indian government pursued toward its Tibetan
seasonal migrations and trade patterns, as well as livestock development and conservation schemes, may well bear valuable insights and lessons for those planning future interventions in these pastoral regions.6 Those interested in the cultural geography and historical ecology of the trans-Himalaya, as well as students and scholars of Tibet and the Himalayas, should find fertile material within this text for comparative studies. This work also adds to the literature that engages how pastoralists
fabric, especially for the institution of the monarchy (cf. Ramakant 1976). As a Hindu kingdom, the Nepali state had latent antipathy for Marxism’s class struggles and antireligious rhetoric. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Khampa proved an important wedge between the northern border districts of Nepal and the central government. The presence of Khampa soldiers was growing more complicated and costly in political, economic, and social terms.19 Nepal came under increasing pressure from China to
maintained that Dolpo’s livestock production and resource management systems were dangerously prone to degrading the environment and endangering wildlife (cf. Yonzon 1990; Sherpa 1992). Initially, when government, nongovernment, and international development workers planned livestock interventions on behalf of Dolpo, they presupposed that rangelands were deteriorated. Reports on Dolpo’s range conditions, funded by international aid organizations, were baleful: as they rapidly surveyed vegetation
politicking are imports from the south,” observed one Nepali election official.19 Nepal’s Maoist insurgency, which began in 1996, is also shaping the present and future sociopolitical circumstances of Dolpo. The chronic poverty in which western Nepal’s villagers are still steeped, and the manifestly ineffectual (at best) interventions of the government were responsible, in large part, for the rise of the Maoist insurgency, which effectively ruled the western mid-hill districts at this writing.