Karine Gagné

Associate Professor
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Phone number: 
519 824 4120 x52505
MCKN 643
Accepting graduate students: 

Climate Change, Ethics of Care, Human-Animal Relations, Environment and Infrastructure, Citizenship, Environmental Knowledge.

PhD Anthropology, Université de Montréal, 2015

 Caring for Glaciers. Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas by Karine Gagné

Reviews for Caring for Glaciers: Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas (2019)

"…an outstanding example of multispecies anthropology…highly recommended" (Choice)

"…essential book for anyone interested in understanding contemporary issues in the Himalayas and changing human-cryosphere relationships" (Journal of Asian Studies)

"…an eloquent ethnographic exploration… enhances the anthropological understanding of South Asia, and draws attention to emic understandings of climate change in the Himalayas" (Anthropologica)

"…a rich impression of how marginal communities cope in an era of social, political and environmental change" (Contemporary South Asia)


My ethnographic work builds on various methods from anthropology in order to bring a multidisciplinary perspective to issues related to the convoluted notions of nature and culture. My research is based primarily in the regions of Ladakh and Zanskar in the Indian Himalayas where I examine the political and cultural dimensions of human interactions with the environment.

I am pursuing these research interests through a study of the social and political effects of a shift towards "expert citizenship" as a means to address environmental issues. I examine how the ability of populations to adapt to climate change intersects with their capacity to be recognized by the state.

In particular, I am interested in how citizens develop technical expertise to address the consequences of climate change and abandonment by the state. More recently, I started to examine how climate knowledge is constituted in the Indian Himalayas. In particular, I focus on insights regarding climate change, its human dimensions, and how it affects bodies of ice; these insights emerge from a study of mobility over time in the region.

My earlier ethnographic work in Ladakh has explored the practices and beliefs through which an ethics of care for the environment and for nonhumans is shaped and nurtured and how this ethics evolves under state production projects.

My interests include supervising graduate students pursuing research in the anthropology of the environment, infrastructure, climate change, the politics of environmental knowledge, and human-animal relations.

Augsten, Leanna, Gagne, Karine, and Su, Yvonne. 2022. The Human Dimensions of The Armed Conflict and Climate Risk Nexus: A Review Article. Regional Environmental Change, 22 (42): 1-19.

Gagne, Karine. 2022. Momo Parties: Crafting Dumplings, Knowledge, and Identity in the Field. In Neufeld, H. T. and Finnis, E. (eds), Recipes and Reciprocity: Building Relationships in Research, 1-21. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Gagne, Karine. 2022. «Si seulement la guerre avait été un peu plus longue» : Géopolitique, routes, et infrastructure de la citoyenneté dans l’Himalaya indien. Anthropologie et Sociétés 46 (1): 109–132.

Gagne, Karine. 2021. The Vanishing of Father White Glacier: Ritual Revival and Temporalities of Climate Change in the Himalayas. In Haberman, David L. (ed), Understanding Climate Change through Religious Lifeworlds, 183-207. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Gagne, Karine. 2020. The Materiality of Ethics: Perspectives from a Himalayan Anthropocene on Water and Reciprocity. WIREs Water. 6(5): 793-808.

Gagne, Karine. 2019. Caring for Glaciers: Land, Animals, and Humanity in the Himalayas. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Gagne, Karine. 2019. Waiting for the Flood: Technocratic Time and Impending Disaster in the Himalayas. Disasters. 43(4): 840-866.

Gagne, Karine. 2019. Deadly predators and virtuous Buddhists: Dog population control and the politics of ethics in Ladakh. HIMALAYA, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies 39(1): 9-25.

Gagne, Karine. 2019. Climat. in Anthropen. Le dictionnaire francophone d’anthropologie ancré dans le contemporain. https://revues.ulaval.ca/ojs/index.php/anthropen/article/view/30587

Gagne, Karine. 2017. Building a Mountain Fortress for India: Sympathy, Imagination and the Reconfiguration of Ladakh into a Border Area. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 40(2):222-238.

Gagne, Karine. 2016. Cultivating Ice Over Time: On the Idea of Timeless Knowledge and Places in the Himalayas. Anthropologica 58(2):193-210.

Gagne, Karine and Mattias Rasmussen. 2016. An Amphibious Anthropology: The Production of Place at the Confluence of Land and Water. Anthropologica 58(2): 135-149.

Gagne, Karine, Mattias Rasmussen and Ben Orlove. 2014. Glaciers and Society: Attributions, Perceptions and Valuations. WIREs Climate Change (Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews) 5(6) 793-808.

Gagne, Karine. 2022-2024. SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Domesticating Wildness: Snow Leopard Conservation in the Himalayan Anthropocene. [$70,981]

Gagne, Karine. 2022-2027. SSHRC Insight Grant. Coping with Infrastructural Curves: Marginalized Citizens Challenging State Plans in India and Vietnam, Principal Investigator, Philippe Messier, Co-Investigator with Sarah Turner and Jean Michaud. [$84,584]

Gagne, Karine. 2020-2025. SSHRC Insight Grant. Decolonizing Climate Knowledge: An Ethnographic Study of Travel and Mobility in The Indian Himalayas in An Era of Climate Change. [$99,643]

Gagne, Karine. 2019-2022. SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Connecting People Positively? The Infrastructure of Mobility in Democratic India and Socialist Vietnam, Principal Investigator, Philippe Messier, Co-Investigator with Sarah Turner and Jean Michaud. [$64,670]

Gagne, Karine. 2018-2021. SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Amid Icy Ruins and Insecure Futures: Climate Change, Expertise, and The Infrastructure of Citizenship in Zanskar. [$61 287]

Fellowship: Infrastructures of Mobility in the Indian Himalayas

We offer one fellowship of up to $8,000 per year for two years to join a project on infrastructures of mobility in the Indian Himalayas. The project is led by Professor Karine Gagné and supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The successful applicant will develop a project that examines how an infrastructure shapes mobility and connectivity for a community affected by economic, political, and ethnic marginalization in the Indian Himalayas. The student will pursue a Master's Degree in Public Issues Anthropology at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Prof. Gagné.

Fellowship: Snow Leopard Conservation in the Indian Himalayas

We offer one fellowship of up to $8,000 per year for two years to join a project on tourism, citizen science, digital nature, and snow leopard tracking in the Indian Himalayas. The project is led by Professor Karine Gagné. The successful applicant will conduct a research project that will investigate the motivations, values, and experiences related to snow leopard tracking and conservation through tourism and citizen science. The student will pursue a Master's Degree in Public Issues Anthropology at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Prof. Gagné.

PhD Project: "Travelling Fido": Perceptions, motivations, and practices related to international dog rescues

Each year, thousands of dogs are rescued by Canadian owners, with a significant number of these 'rescue dogs' being imported from other countries (herein termed canine importation). Many in the veterinary and public health communities have sounded the alarm on the potential infectious pathogen and welfare risks associated with largely unregulated dog movement. Despite these significant concerns, these rescue practices continue to grow, which is driven by diverse moral, ethical and cultural beliefs.

For many Canadians, dogs are an integral part of a family and human-animal bonds form because of these adoptions. The focus of this PhD project will be to expand beyond a purely risk-focused narrative on canine importation by: (1) describing rescuers' (both organizations and adopters) perceptions of and motivations for canine importation, (2) identifying the sociocultural drivers associated with canine importation, and (3) analyzing the human-animal bond formed between rescued dogs and adopters. By including a diversity of perspectives, we increase the likelihood of developing a fulsome understanding of the practice and thus effective, sustainable solutions to make the practice safer for all.

Learn more about "Travelling Fido"