Thursday, March 07, 2013

ERSEH can you see!

The Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environments in the Himalaya (ERSEH) project's final conference is off to a good start - though half the audience (myself included) goes all wistful each time someone puts up a slide of mountains or colorful Himalayan customs.

I was the first speaker in the second panel, coming after reports from our five case studies in India, Nepal, and Tibetan regions of China. Since I'd been introduced as someone who had never been to the Himalaya before this project began, I was happy to admit that I've been as stretched by what I've seen and learned as our local researchers have been by the rather nebulous charge to explore "everyday religion." My presentation was on "resource use decisions," and seems to have gone over well enough. There's something obvious about "lived religion," as about pragmatism, which can be either liberating, reassuring or a bit dull: my deliberately unglamorous (and non-"religious") mantra won't have changed that! But I think it was appreciated that I was trying to be helpful... and maybe I succeeded!

The next speaker offered a flashy Latour-de-force with clever powerpoint slides suggesting a parallel between the faux religion of Shangrila and New Yorkers' fixation on ugly and inefficient window box air conditioners. I dare say my three word message, delivered without slides, is more likely to be remembered.

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