Austin Lord

Location of experience:
South Asia; Himalayas

Type of disaster work:
Disaster recovery; Community; Humanitarian response; Sustainability, resilience, and mitigation

Primary Interests:
Disaster risk reduction; Humanitarian response; Climate change and climate change adaptation; Livelihoods; Memory; Energy; Infrastructure; Environmental governance; Knowledge politics; Uncertainty

I joined CADAN because I was looking for a community of critical disaster scholars committed to affecting real change within disaster response paradigms and to working through the complexities of applied research. As an environmental anthropologist, I use ethnographic and participatory methods to examine the sociocultural and political dimensions of disasters, disaster risk reduction, climate change, climate science, and water resource management in the Himalayan bioregion. My experiences working in the wake of Nepal’s 2015 Gorkha Earthquake – as an activist researcher, a consultant and policy advisor, and the director of a grassroots humanitarian initiative – frequently emphasized the need for culturally appropriate modes of humanitarian engagement, taught me the value of place-based knowledges, and reiterated the importance of an intersectional approach. A decade of personal experiences and commitments in Nepal have also convinced me of the need to recognize and represent the strength and agency of peoples affected by disaster, who are always far more than just victims. Lastly, this work has taught me the value of diverse partnerships and collaborations – and so I look forward to the ‘action network’ aspect of CADAN and to learning within the dynamic intellectual and professional community this group provides.