When pastoralists urbanize: Intersecting spatiotemporalities of small town Himalaya

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Development scholars have noticed the decoupling of rural poverty and well-being from agriculture and other traditional livelihoods, and the greater importance of highly mobile and delocalized livelihoods across the Global South. In this context, the Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh has been hailed as a development exemplar. While there is undeniable though uneven economic mobility across the state, what of its spatiotemporality? As more capital makes its way to interior regions, where and how is it fixed, and how do these processes reconfigure prevalent rhythms of life? This paper considers the changing materiality of the urbanizing settlement of Bharmour, the centre of the agri-pastoralist Gaddi community in Himachal, alongside the intersecting temporalities experienced by its residents. The pastoralist seasonal time has historically structured the rhythms of the region. Since the late colonial period, but with greater intensity since the 1970s, the state has sought to discipline time through the broader discourse of tribal development. More recently, state-backed capitalism aims to flatten time towards the accelerated circulation of people, information, and commodities. Theorizing spatiotemporality from the perspective of Bharmour shows that despite these changes, pastoralist rhythms continue to shape the settlement, producing a form of the urban the paper terms ‘the seasonal town’.




Negi, R. (2023). When pastoralists urbanize: Intersecting spatiotemporalities of small town Himalaya. Contemporary South Asia, 31(1), 80–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2023.2169907

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