Austin Lord

Author Biography

Austin Lord (Master of Environmental Science, Yale University, 2014) is an anthropologist studying the interface of environment and economy. His ongoing research concerns processes of social and spatial change in areas affected by hydropower development in Nepal, with a particular focus on changing livelihoods and shifting patterns of migration and mobility. Austin has conducted nine months of fieldwork in Nepal, and is currently continuing this work with the support of a Fulbright grant. In the past, Austin also studied hydrology at Portland State University and Economics at Dartmouth College. A broader collection of his photographic work can be found at


This essay focuses ethnographic attention on changing patterns of subjectivity, livelihood, and agency co-arising within the production of Nepal's imagined hydropower future. As the projects and processes of hydropower development proliferate across the physical and human geographies of Nepal they produce many different kinds of risk and opportunity, as well as labor, mobility, and 'project-affected people'. Combining empirical and visual methods, this essay describes how these lived hydroscapes are shaped by shifting concepts of locality, belonging, citizenship, and 'affectedness' that are constantly evolving in response to an entanglement of aspirations and future-making projects.


The author expresses gratitude to the following people and institutions for their support and contributions to this work: Professors Sara Shneiderman, Michael Dove, and Carol Carpenter at Yale for their guidance and counsel; the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the South Asian Studies Council at Yale for its support of his research; research assistants Ram Tiwari, Bikram Karki, and Sudan Bhattarai for their insight and efforts; all interview subjects for their time and perspectives; and the Yale Himalaya Initiative and the South Asia Program at Cornell University for introducing him to Nepal in such an incredible way.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.