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Miss Alice Millington

Miss Alice Millington

PhD student

Researching on Tibetan, Vajrayana Buddhist and Himalayan perspectives of climate change with a focus on the 'more-than-human' environment.

Biography

Career

  • Visiting PhD student: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu (Oct 2021-June 2022)
  • Research Assistant on Dr Michael Bravo's project: 'The Third Pole as a Geographical Imaginary: its Historical, Philosophical and Political Roots' (August-October 2021)
  • Policy Intern, Centre for Science and Policy, Cambridge (November 2020 – April 2021)
  • PhD in Geography and Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (began October 2019)
  • MA in South Asian Area Studies, SOAS, University of London (Sept 2018- Sept 2019)
  • Research Intern, Cambridge Conservation Institute (July-September 2018)
  • Protected Areas Intern, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge (June-August 2016)
  • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge (October 2015- June 2018)

Qualifications

  • MA in South Asian Area Studies, SOAS, University of London (Distinction)
  • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge (First Class, with Distinction)

Awards and scholarships

  • AJ Pressland Fund Bursary for Nepali Language training at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu (2021)
  • ESRC DTP Interdisciplinary Studentship (2019-2023)
  • Foundation Scholarship, Corpus Christi College (2018)
  • William Vaughan Lewis Prize for Outstanding Dissertation, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (2018)
  • Latymer Scholarship, Corpus Christi College (2017)
  • CU-ELST grant to support travel to Tibetan cultural regions [Mongolia] (2016)
  • Corpus Christi Travel Grant [Mongolia] (2016)
  • Cambridge Careers Service Not-for-Profit Bursary (2016)
  • Carter Scholarship, Corpus Christi College (2016)

Research

My research focuses on indigenous epistemologies of climate change in Tibetan-Himalayan regions. In Tibet and the Buddhist Himalayas, reciprocal relationships between humans a pantheon of landscape deities are believed to have an important role in producing weather events. For believers, if local deities are angered by the immoral actions of human communities, severe hailstorms, drought, floods, or other natural calamities may result. However, the contemporary climatic context may place an unprecedented moral burden on believers. With the 'roof of the world' undergoing faster rates of climate change than almost any other region globally, how is the Tibetan Buddhist 'moral climate' changing? What can we learn about epistemologies of landscape, and epistemologies of the self? And could this construction of climate change inform attempts at adaptation and mitigation, as well as regional climate policy?

I'm also increasingly interested in examining the idea of the Himalayas and Tibet as a 'Third Pole'. Whilst some climatic and cultural cognates exist between communities in the Arctic and Himalaya, to what extent is the framing of the region as a 'Pole' justified? Could this label offer a chance to spur meaningful, interregional dialogue between the communities of these vulnerable environments - or does it primarily serve the geopolitical interests of powerful nation-state actors? To this end, with members of the Scott Polar Research Institute, we have engaged in fortnightly discussions to discuss these perspectives.

My PhD involves 9 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Nepal (2021-2022), focused on the village of Olangchung Gola (Walung), at the north-eastern Nepali border with Tibet and Sikkim. Reflecting my close cultural engagement with how climate is constructed and experienced, my PhD is co-supervised with the Social Anthropology department at Cambridge.

I am also Co-organiser of the interdepartmental reading group (with Dr. Michael Bravo and Samira Patel): 'Third Pole: High Mountain Asia, Culture and the Cryosphere' (LT-ET 2021).

Publications

Conference presentations and talks

  • Graduate Conference in Religion and Ecology, Yale University, "Bhutanese Buddhism in an Era of Climate Change: What lessons can be learnt in the West?" (March 12th, 2021).
  • Kailash CAFE, ICIMOD, Kathmandu: "Religion as an entry point to communicating climate knowledge in the Kailash Sacred Landscape" (21st April, 2021)
  • Polar Early Career Conference, UK Polar Network, "Three's a crowd? Framing Highland Asia as the world's Third Pole" (5th May 2021)

Teaching

  • Part IB (undergraduate year II), Paper 1: Living with Global Change – Human Geography Supervisor (MT, 2020)
  • Part II (undergraduate year III), Paper 11: Life within Limits: Science for climate and ecological futures – Physical Geography Supervisor (MT, 2020).