A Relational Vulnerability Analytic: Exploring Hybrid Methodologies for Human Dimensions of Climate Change Research in the Himalayas

  • Ritodhi ChakrabortyEmail author
  • Anne-Sophie Daloz
  • Tristan L’Ecuyer
  • Andrea Hicks
  • Stephen Young
  • Yanghui Kang
  • Mayank Shah


Vulnerability assessments are critical tools when exploring the Human Dimensions of Climate Change in the Global South. Additionally, Social Ecological Systems research utilizes such assessments to describe and predict potential spaces/tools of policy intervention. However, much of the assessment methodology fails to address the coupled structural processes underlying vulnerability and the experience of climate change. First, most scholarship does not operationalize mixed-methods research using plural epistemologies. Second, it fails to incorporate the communally produced knowledge of marginalized regional populations. Ultimately, power inequalities and their impact on vulnerability within complex adaptive systems, are overwhelmingly ignored. This project attempts to address these issues through a ‘Relational Vulnerability Analytic’ (RVA). We utilize a plural epistemological approach to construct an analytic that envisions the various relationships, processes and tools that need to be cultivated and managed in order to empower the community as co-producers of knowledge, while challenging the disciplinary bias in explorations of climate change risk and adaptation. Our method brings top-down spatial analysis tools, mathematical models, grounded ethnographic fieldwork and participatory feminist epistemologies into productive tension to reveal the sources of vulnerability and the agency of subjects, in rural Himalayan households. Additionally, we addresses the appeal for long term, collaborative, multi-dimensional research mobilization in the Himalayas. While the analytic is parameterized for the Himalayan region, it can be implemented in other regions with certain salient customizations. The project concludes that future efforts should be to operationalize this analytic for different regions and populations.


Trans-disciplinary Vulnerability Himalayas Climate change Political ecology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritodhi Chakraborty
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anne-Sophie Daloz
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tristan L’Ecuyer
    • 5
  • Andrea Hicks
    • 6
  • Stephen Young
    • 1
  • Yanghui Kang
    • 1
  • Mayank Shah
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Excellence (DFPL)Lincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand
  3. 3.Space and Science Engineering Center & Center for Climatic ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.CICERO, Senter for klimaforskningOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences & Center for Climatic ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  7. 7.Department of EconomicsKumaun UniversityNainitalIndia

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