Two GlacierHub Writers Win Prizes in 2014

Posted by on Jan 8, 2015

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Tsechu Dolma received a Brower Youth Award on 21 October 2014. These awards have been given since 2010 to young environmental leaders from Across North America in recognition of “sustainable projects, innovative ideas, and informed analyses” that benefit the environment.

Dolma was born in Nepal to Tibetan refugee parents, and moved to the US when she was 10. She returned to Nepal as a research assistant when studying at Barnard College. Fluent in Nepali and Tibetan, she established strong ties with villagers in the Upper Mustang region in the Nepalese Himalayas.

She learned from them that climate change had brought changes in seasonal weather patterns, and that stream flow was reduced because of glacier retreat. Working with members of the Himalayan diaspora communities in New York and with academic researchers, she wrote a successful grant proposal for a community greenhouse to address these challenges by improving agricultural yields and conserving water. The villagers welcomed the idea of the greenhouse, and worked with Dolma to turn the idea into a concrete reality.

Tsechu Dolma in Upper Mustang, Nepal, at far left.

Tsechu Dolma in Upper Mustang, Nepal, at far left.

They found ways to involve village youth, who felt keenly the lack of employment opportunities in the region. The greenhouse, made of locally available materials to avoid dependence on external markets, is now complete and operational. “Communities like Mustang have existed for centuries,” said Dolma. “It has a very rich history. These communities are vulnerable and endangered by the effects of climate change. The only way these communities can move forward is if we build sustainable models of local ownership and expansion of community rights over resources.”

Now a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Dolma remains active in community-oriented development. She is the strategic director of the Yulha Fund, which seeks to address climate change in the Himalayan region by promoting food security, energy security, and what it terms “talent security”—finding meaningful work for youth in high mountain regions. She also works with ACHA Himalayan Sisterhood, a group that addresses the needs of immigrant and refugee girls and women. Dolma has written posts in GlacierHub on issues of gender inequality, tourism and water in Nepal.

Gísli Pálsson received the Asa Wright Icelandic Science Prize (Ásuverðlaun Vísindafélags Íslendinga) on 30 December 2014. This prize has been awarded annually since 1969 for distinguished contributions to science in Iceland. Born in a small fishing town in the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland, Pálsson studied anthropology at the University of Iceland and the University of Manchester, where he received his doctorate. His teaching career has been primarily at the University of Iceland, though he has also been a visiting professor at a number of leading universities in Europe and the United States.

Pálsson’s research has focused primarily on Iceland, with shorter field research projects in the Cape Verde Islands and in the Canadian Arctic. His early work on fishing communities drew attention to the importance of local environmental knowledge, and contributed to the development of policies of individual fishing quotas, now widely used to support sustainable catch levels. His later work has extended broadly across topics of the place of humans in the natural world, addressing issues of changing understandings of landscapes, Arctic exploration, and biotechnology and genetics. Among his many books are The Textual Life of Savants: Ethnography, Iceland, and the Linguistic Turn, Writing on Ice: The Ethnographic Notebooks of V. Stefansson,  Anthropology and the New Genetics, and Biosocial Becomings: Integrating Social  and  Biological Anthropology and Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives.

Gísli Pálsson and his most recent book © djupivogur

Gísli Pálsson and his most recent book © djupivogur

His two most recent books are Gambling Debt: Iceland’s Rise and Fall in the Global Economy, a study of Iceland’s economic collapse in 2008 which presaged the global economic downturn, now downloadable for free, and Hans Jónatan, The Man Who Stole Himself (Hans Jónatan. Maðurinn Sem Stal Sjálfum Sér), a biography of a slave born in 1784 on St. Croix in the Caribbean when it was a Danish colony; as a boy the slave was brought to Copenhagen by his owner, but escaped to Iceland, where he settled in a small coastal town, took up farming, and married a local woman. Pálsson is now working with the University of Chicago Press to publish this most recent book in English, and is developing a project on life in the Anthropocene. Pálsson has written posts for GlacierHub on Icelandic landscapes and contributed to discussions before and during volcanic eruptions.

We are proud of the recognition that these two people have received.

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