What is our place in nature? Can we completely detach ourselves from our environment, take ourselves out of the box? In some mountain regions, nature narratives have a significant influence on the actions of local people and decision-makers. In addition, such narratives influence and shape strong human-nature relationships.
Long-term project, since 2017.
The word “nature” is not innocent: it is the marker of a civilization devoted to exploiting territories on a massive scale as if they were just inert matter, and to sanctifying small spaces dedicated to recreation, sporting activities or spiritual replenishment – all more impoverished attitudes towards the living world than one would have liked. - Baptiste Morizot on the western concept of nature
In the Indian state of Sikkim in the eastern Himalayas, for example, people have a strong relationship with nature and see themselves as part of the environment, not as its masters.
Sikkim was a Buddhist kingdom in the eastern Himalayas that became an Indian state in 1975. Today it is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual state with a special relationship with nature. Sikkim is strongly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. However, there has never been a complete change of faith. Rather, pre-existing nature-based concepts and beliefs have merged with Buddhism. In Sikkim, every natural landmark, such as mountains, lakes or rocks, is believed to be inhabited by supernatural beings. They ensure that the people and the land are well. When these beings get angry, they send wild animals or natural disasters, wild animals or natural disasters. This is to remind people not to upset them. them. Religious rites are performed to keep the balance and to please these supernatural beings. Nature, culture and religion are therefore closely intertwined in Sikkim.
But is the relationship between man and nature always so simple and free of conflict? Sikkim is prone to to natural disasters such as landslides, earthquakes and flash floods. Communities and individual lives have been transformed by recent developments, including anthropogenic climate change and dam construction. Recent decades have seen confrontations between people trying to protect their sacred environment and politicians and investors. The challenge has been to reconcile traditional, religious and cultural issues with economic and political interests.