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9 December 2022 - 9 December 2022

9:00AM - 10:30AM


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This is the image alt text Geography Department

Jane Dyson and Craig Jeffrey, from the University of Melbourne, will discuss their recent research exploring how youth in Uttarakhand approach living a 'good life' in the face of environmental and socio-economic crisis. Ritwika Basu, from Durham's Department of Geography, will be the discussant.

Life Support:  Youth, Life and Viability in Rural North India   

Jane Dyson and Craig Jeffrey 


What does it mean to live a viable and 'good' life? This paper explores this question through drawing on research over a 20 year period with young people in Bemni village, Uttarakhand, north India. We show how young men (aged 18-30) in Bemni have responded to environmental and socio-economic crises through engaging in social action at the everyday level in the village. This social action is particularly focused on key local domains of life, such as work, infrastructure, and education. Young men understand this action in terms of their ability to ensure their own and their community's jeevan, a Hindi word meaning ‘life’ and akin to the Greek idea of life as ‘bios’ or everyday human living. At the same time, young men also channel energy into linking this everyday action to ‘puri life’ (whole life), understood as ethically-meaningful human and non-human life within their wider geographical milieu. Puri life resonates with the Greek idea of life as ‘zoe’. In this account, viability emerges as the capacity to simultaneously engage with key life domains (jeevan/bios) and manage an ethical relationship to a wider social, environmental, and spiritual milieu (puri life/zoe). In discussing how young people support the efforts of their community to live a viable life, the paper speaks directly to debates on youth, life and social change in the contemporary Majority World within human geography, anthropology, South Asian Studies, and development studies.