Sacred landscapes in Social Movements

Increasingly, non-governmental organizations and socials movements, ranging from to local to global in scale, are mobilizing sacred landscapes—intimate, yet contested and politically charged lifeworlds and expressions of beliefs—to support environmental conservation programs, development agendas, and indigenous peoples’ territorial and rights claims. Yet, such mobilizations often lead to social conflict by essentializing and depoliticizing relations with sacred landscapes. My earlier work examined the ways in which older resident Sherpas’ understandings of the Mount Everest region of Nepal as a beyul—a sacred, hidden valley in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition—shaped relations with the environment. My dissertation broadened this research by examining resident Sherpas’ contested understandings of the region as a beyul and alternative understandings of the landscape as animated by mountain deities, water spirits, and land spirits. This research untangled the social, economic, political, and ecological processes shaping a highly uneven and unjust social landscape in order to demonstrate the ways in which social difference shapes human-environment relations and the outcomes of environmental and indigenous rights movements in specific places.  This research was primarily funded by The National Science Foundation, The Society of Women Geographers, the Tokyo Foundation, and a Fulbright grant.

Related Publications:

Skog, L. The Perfect Package: Indigenous identity and sacred landscapes in Khumbu, Nepal. (In preparation)

Skog, L. 2017. Khumbi yullha and the beyul: Sacred space the cultural politics of religion in Khumbu, Nepal. The Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 107 (2): 546-554. DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1210498


Negotiating knowledges: Climate change and intimate environmental knowledge

As global discourses about the relationship between cultural and sacred values and environmental management take root throughout the world, localized interpretations of environmental change and adaptation strategies are coming into contact with global climate change knowledge networks. These interactions have implications for livelihoods, social institutions, and human-environment relations. I plan to use qualitative methodologies and participatory mapping to investigate these interactions and their effects.

Trans-Asian Indigeneity

This project examines the ways in which the diverse meanings of indigenous throughout Asia differently shape the uptake of indigenous identities and participation in the global indigenous rights movement. The early stages of this work have resulted in a peer-reviewed essay contemplating indigeneity as a methodology, which has been accepted for publication in Verge: Studies in Global Asias in early 2018. In addition, I will be presenting my work on this project at the South Asia Conference of the Pacific Northwest in Vancouver, BC in March 2018.


Related Publication:

Skog, L. 2018. Thinking with indigeneity: Invocations and Provocations. Verge: Studies in Global Asias. (Accepted for publication in early 2018. 

Other Publications

Book reviews


Skog, L. 2016. Review of Land of pure vision: The sacred geography of Tibet and the Himalaya, by David Zurich. HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 35 (2): 181-82.


Select Funding

Pennsylvania State University Asian Studies Summer Institute, “Trans-Asian Indigeneity”, 2017

Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowship, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2014


National Science Foundation, Geography and Spatial Sciences Program, “Doctoral Dissertation Research: ClaimingGround: Indigenous Politics, sacred landscapes, and human-environment relations in Khumbu, Nepal” (Award Number: 1303147), 2013


Gilbert White Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Geography Department, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2013


Society of Women Geographers Pruitt National Dissertation Fellowship, 2013


SYLFF Research Abroad Fellowship, The Tokyo Foundation, 2012


Center for the Advancement of Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences Graduate Fellowship, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2012


Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (alternate; funding not dispersed), 2011


IIE Fulbright Fellowship—Nepal, 2009-2010


Oregon University System-Sasakawa Youth Leadership Fellowship (SYLFF) for International Research, The Tokyo Foundation, 2008


Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship – Tibetan, South Asia Summer Language Institute, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2008

The key questions driving my research include:

●      How can attention to spiritual and cultural values in human-environment relations lead to more socially-just environmental outcomes?

●      In what ways are cultural and spiritual values shaping understandings of and adaptation to climate change? And with what implications for local and global climate policy?

●      What are the roles of cultural and spiritual values in sustainably managing resources and landscapes?