Reincarnating Himalayan Resilience: A Permacultural Pathway

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Master's Thesis


The Himalayan region is home to one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and mountainous societies whose very livelihoods and survival are dependent on the stability of their environment. With a global rise in political crises, natural disasters, and climate change, resilience has become the buzzword of our modern times. As efforts of international development practice shift to resilience building in face of compounding threats, the term displays no shortage of theoretical definitions or conceptual frameworks. The Himalayan region, however, with its intricate mosaic of heterogeneous landscapes and peoples evades reductionist academic research, and literature has exposed severe shortcomings of this conventional development approach over the past decades. This necessitates a paradigmatic shift in the development model towards a more holistic, systematic approach to address Himalayan complexity. Given this knowledge gap, permaculture is proposed as a pathway for building future resiliency.
The main contribution of this dissertation to new knowledge is that of permaculture as a viable ethical, eco- and people-centric framework with a holistic outlook on resilience. A transformative interpretative paradigm is utilised to ground this claim in the empirical chapter. As a point of departure, a multiple case-study approach composed of four inter-linked permaculture projects in the Nepal Himalaya are explored to illuminate the subtle and explicit linkages between permaculture and resilience.
Findings contest that permaculture is a form of repackaged indigenous knowledge, which justifies its readiness to be absorbed by the Himalayan dwellers, far more than conventional development approaches. Furthermore, permaculture philosophy, principles and design process are shown to have a profound potential for acknowledging and improving on existing indigenous and local resilience. Permaculture also exhibited a clear aptness to address inner, subjective resilience through individual capacity-building activities alongside external resilience of livelihoods and assets. Resilience, in fact, is never stated to be a separate target in permaculture practice – it is in-built into all sectoral activities such as health, education, food security, sustainable agriculture and shelter. On this note, the research concludes that the main contribution of permaculture to the resilience discourse is in re-drawing a bold outline along the outer boundaries of inter-disciplinary development practice.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Arts
Awarding Institution
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Akerkar, Supriya, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Jan 2018
Place of PublicationOxford
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Permaculture
  • Indigenous studies
  • Resilience
  • Himalaya
  • Nepal


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