Luke Whitmore

Natural Disaster in the Land of the Gods: Preliminary Observations on Post-June 2013 Uttarakhand

This lecture will discuss, with particular attention to the famous pilgrimage site of Kedarnath, what has been happening in Uttarakhand since the disastrous flooding and landslides of June 2013. What causes and meanings have been assigned? To what extent will Uttarakhand be able to reformulate its approaches to tourism, development, and environmental planning? What has the last year been like for Garhwalis living in disaster-struck areas and what may lie ahead? Some preliminary observations will be offered about these and other questions.

Luke Whitmore received his M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School in 1999 and his Ph.D. in West and South Asian Religions from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University in 2010. Broadly, his research and teaching interests include South Asian and Himalayan religions, Shaivism, Judaism, theory and method in religious studies, pilgrimage, tourism, myth, visual culture, network theory, phenomenological anthropology, and the study of place and space. He is currently writing a book, tentatively titled “Mountain, Water, Rock, God: Shiva’s Abode of Kedarnath in the Twenty-First Century”, about how people experience the place of Kedarnath today, particularly after the natural disaster of June 2013.