Geography, accountability and capital: an ethnography of ecological accountabilities in Gilgit-Baltistan

Ahmad-Khan, Anfaal (2022) Geography, accountability and capital: an ethnography of ecological accountabilities in Gilgit-Baltistan. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis concerns the ideas of geography, accountability and capital; it seeks to explore the construction and articulation of accountability relationships in complex and sensitive spaces of cultural geography — in this case, Gilgit-Baltistan, a region in Northern Pakistan. In doing so, it broadly contributes to our understanding and framing of the notion of ‘ecological accountabilities’: a form of accountability that emanates from one’s connection with the ecologies of ‘place’ or stan, as in Pakistan or Gilgit-Baltistan (i.e., nature and land) to which they belong. This geographical/spatial dimension of accountability forms the thrust of this thesis.

The empirical data supporting the arguments put forward in this thesis were derived from intensive ethnographic fieldwork, constituted of in-depth interviews and observations in some of the most remote regions of Northern Pakistan. By drawing on Harraway’s (2015) ‘chthulucene’ and the theoretical notion of ‘assembly’ and assembly thinking, an attempt is made to illustrate five themes: how ecological nature infiltrates body-performing via local belief systems and values; how this permeates ecology as a powerful mediator and governor of all aspects of rural social life, including gendered relations of accountability; how nature underpins the organisation of the social into financial (e.g., micro-saving groups); how capital is produced and circulated in a setting of ecological accountabilities (defined above); and finally, how nature nurtures resilience traits — adapting and enduring — which form the substratum of ecological accountabilities. These themes intersect and overlap in various ways, constituting the contested and oblique nature of ‘ecological accountabilities’; hence they are organised and presented throughout the chapters of the thesis, which intersect and overlap in various aspects, in some cases reinforcing interconnections and in others challenging one another.

This thesis makes several contributions to current research. First, it advances our understanding of accountability-in-nature. It frames ‘ecological accountability’ as a social apparatus of power which, resisting between the modern and pre-modern social formations at the margins, assembles networks of production and relations of ecological accountability that can still allow for the contemporary neoliberal global order. This is a contribution to what I call the ‘geo-political economy of accountability’. Second, it adds to the discussion of capital-in-nature. It brings out the ecological ‘limits to capital’ (Harvey, 1982), and provides an insight into how capital subjugates nature in order to work in geographically and culturally complex and fragile places (stan).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from Wards Trust Scholarship.
Keywords: Ecological accountability, Chthulucene, land, nature, landability, naturability, micro-saving, assembly, geopolitical economy, Gilgit-Baltistan.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Supervisor's Name: Wickramasinghe, Professor Danture and Alawattage, Professor Chandana
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83259
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2022 11:21
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 11:27
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83259

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