Huatse Gyal

Dr. Huatse Gyal is an anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He earned his B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College in 2013, and MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 2022. Dr. Gyal's work falls into three interrelated areas. First, Dr. Gyal explores the interdependent relationships between land, language, and community, focusing on state environmentalism and climate change, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to land-based indigenous revitalization movements in a global context. His scholarship and community service are deeply informed by Critical Indigenous Studies scholars who see revitalization of indigenous ways of relating to land and language as essential to the mission of empowering indigenous communities and unmaking settler colonialisms.

Second, Dr. Gyal focuses on environmental anthropology. Drawing on Tibetan genres of land-based indigenous storywork, such as origin stories, sacred place narratives, traditional songs and folktales, epic stories, stories of nonhuman actors, ritual texts, as well as long-term ethnographic fieldwork in eastern Tibet, his current research analytically centers indigenous Tibetan pastoralists’ ways of theorizing and relating to their ancestral lands now jeopardized by large-scale rangeland fencing and resettlement policies. Several academic publications have emerged out of this project. These include a co-edited volume in Nomadic Peoples on mass relocation of Tibetan nomads, a peer-reviewed article in Critical Asian Studies, as well as a number of widely-read online academic essays both in English and his mother-tongue Tibetan. Dr. Gyal is currently adapting his dissertation, entitled, “The Remaking of Home, Community, and Self: Rangeland Fencing, Resettlement, and the Resilience of Tibetan Pastoralists” into a book.

Third, Dr. Gyal is a visual anthropologist. He has been collaborating with a network of native/indigenous community artists, writers, and environmentalists in eastern Tibet, whose work strives to construct alternative narratives of Tibetan pastoralists’ relationality with their ancestral land through documentary films, paintings, children's books, and community-led land-restoration projects. He is very passionate about multimodal forms of knowledge production as it offers us an unparalleled opportunity to experiment with the creative capacity of anthropology and to present our interlocutors not just as information providers but also as analytical agents. Dr. Gyal released his first feature-length documentary film, entitled Khata: Poison or Purity? in September 2023.


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