University of Heidelberg

Abhimanyu Pandey, M.A.

Abhimanyu Pandey, M.A. Abhimanyu Pandey, M.A., MPhil (Cantab)


  • Doctoral Student

Contact information

Research foci

Trans-Himalayas, borderlands, anthropology of connectivity and roads, cultural ecosystem services, institutions and governance, tradition and modernity in the Himalayas

Short Biography

Abhimanyu Pandey, an Indian national, is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the South Asia Institute. The title of his research project is ‘Materialities of Connectivity: an Anthropology of Roads, Development Narratives, and Everyday Lives in Himalayan Borderlands’. Prior to commencing his doctoral studies, he worked as a social scientist at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 2014 till 2017. He holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge, and an MA in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He has been the recipient of an EU grant for short term ethnographic research in Copenhagen (2011); a Commonwealth Cambridge Shared Scholarship (2012-2013); a Charles Wallace short-term research fellowship (2015), a Sigrid Rausing grant from the Department of Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2016), and a DAAD doctoral grant (2017 onwards). He has conducted anthropological and qualitative research in Bhutan, China, Denmark, India, and Nepal.

Title of PhD:

Materialities of ‘Connectivity’: an Anthropology of Roads, Development Narratives, and Everyday Lives in the Himalayan borderlands

Short description

This project researches the material, affective, and political effects of road connectivity on everyday life, livelihoods, and identity in a Trans-Himalayan borderland. The field site for this project is the Spiti valley, a high-altitude valley with cold-desert type vegetation that borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China to its east.


  • Pandey, Abhimanyu. 2020. Book review of Trans-Himalayan Borderlands: Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities (edited by Dan Smyer-Yü and Jean Michaud; Amsterdam University Press, 2017). European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, Issue 55 (Winter 2020), pages 127-133.
  • Pandey, Abhimanyu. 2019. 2.3.2: Changing Socio-Cultural Situation. In: Yanfen Wang, Wu Ning, Clemens Kunze, Ruijin Long, Manfred Perlik. Drivers of Change to Mountain Sustainability in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. In: Philipus Wester, Arabinda Mishra, Aditi Mukherji, Arun Bhakta Shrestha. (eds) The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment. Cham: Springer
  • Bubriski, Kevin and Abhimanyu Pandey. 2018. Kailash Yatra: a long walk to Mt. Kailash through Humla. New Delhi: Penguin.
  • Pandey, Abhimanyu, Nawraj Pradhan, Swapnil Chaudhari, and Rucha Ghate. "Withering of traditional institutions? An institutional analysis of the decline of migratory pastoralism in the rangelands of the Kailash Sacred Landscape, western Himalayas." Environmental Sociology 3, no. 1 (2017): 87-100. Accessible at
  • Pandey, Abhimanyu, Rajan Kotru, Nawraj Pradhan. 2016. Kailash Sacred Landscape: bridging cultural heritage, conservation and development through a trans-boundary landscape approach’. In Bas Verschuuren and Naoya Furuta (Eds.) Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and practice in protected areas and conservation. Oxford: Earthscan from Routlege. Pp. 145-158.
  • Pandey, Abhimanyu, Rajan Kotru, Nawraj Pradhan. 2016. A Framework for the Assessment of Cultural Ecosystem Services of Sacred Natural Sites in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. Working paper – 2016/8. Kathmandu: ICIMOD. Accessible at
  • Pandey, Abhimanyu. 2011. An anthropology of well-being in Christiania. In Proceedings of the Final Conference on the European Studies Programme of the University of Delhi (November, 2011). New Delhi: University of Delhi.
  • Stevens, Payson R., Alan Robinson, Sanjeeva Pandey, K. Ramesh, Anthony J. Gaston, Ajay Srivastav, Gopal Singh Rawat, G.S. Goraya, Abhimanyu Pandey. 2011. The Republic of India's Nomination of the Great Himalayan National Park for Inscription on the World Heritage List. Accessible at

Peer Review

  • Manuscript reviewer for Environmental Challenges.


  • 'The India-Nepal-China border'. An hour-long presentation-cum-discussion with the Masters students undertaking the 'Borderlands Course' (summer semester 2022) at the Institut für Ethnologie, Center for Asian and Trans-cultural Studies, University of Heidelberg, in late June, 2022.
  • 'Fragile mountains, extreme winters, and bordering China: interrogating the shaping of remoteness and connectivity through roads in a Himalayan borderland'. Online presentation made in the panel 'High Mountains' at the 12th Annual Meeting of the ArbeitsKreis Südasien of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geographie, hosted by the University of Bonn, in late January, 2022.
  • 'The creative powers of hazardous roads, geo-climatic extremes, and international borders in a Himalayan valley'. Online presentation made in the panel 'Transport and Connectivity' (chaired by Prof. Joe Smith, Director of the Royal Geographic Society) at the Annual Conference of the Royal Geographic Society, London, in early September, 2021. The theme of the conference this time was 'Borders, Borderlands, and Bordering'.
  • 'Roads and the materialities of negotiation with 'modernity' and 'development' in a Trans-Himalayan borderland'. Paper abstract selected for presentation in the panel 'Making of the Mountains: Trans-disciplinary approaches to the Himalayas' at the 26th European Conference on South Asian Studies, Vienna (ECSAS 2020, postponed to late July 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic). Inability to attend due to personal reasons.
  • The many worlds of the same road: exploring varied yet intertwined negotiations around roads in a Himalayan borderland'. Invited online presentation lasting 1 hour 35 minutes (including 55 minutes Q&A) to the doctoral researchers and faculty of the Department of Geography, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, in mid-June 2021.
  • Invited moderation of the panel 'Culture and Heritage' in the online conference 'The Kailash Consortium of Academics and Researchers for Experience-Sharing', hosted on Microsoft Teams by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, in April 2021.
  • ‘Roads, development, and cultural change in Spiti – past, present, and future’. Invited virtual talk-cum-presentation lasting 1 hour 50 minutes (including 45 minutes of Q&A) to a mixed audience of academics and non-academics on the forum ‘The Himalayan Centre for Cultural and Historical Studies’; mediated by Dr. Sonali Gupta-Agarwal of the University of California, Los Angeles. Late December 2020
  • ‘Stories of development and cultural change from roads in a Himalayan borderland’. Invited virtual talk-cum-powerpoint presentation lasting 1 hour 40 minutes (including 25 minutes of Q&A) to students auditing the course ‘The Himalayan region as a zone of contact, conflict, and negotiation’ with Dr. Nike Ann-Schröder at Humboldt University, Berlin, in early December 2020.
  • ‘The geographic embeddedness of connectivity: understanding roads and their varied affects in a Trans-Himalayan borderland’. Paper presentation made in the panel ‘IN03: Landscapes of Infrastructure’ at the conference ‘Anthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present, and Future’, hosted (virtually, on the Shindig online conference platform) by the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, in mid-September, 2020.
  • Invited Co-panelist alongside Dr. Edwin Bernbaum (co-chair of IUCN’s Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas Group), Kai Weise (President, ICOMOS Nepal), Padma Shri Prof. Dr. Aditya Purohit and Dr. P.P. Dhyani (former Directors of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora) in the virtual talk ‘Conserving Sacred Mountains’ (one hour presentation by Dr. Bernbaum plus 1.5 hour of panel discussion and Q&A) hosted simultaneously on Facebook Live and Youtube by eCoexist, a Pune-based social enterprise in mid - September 2020.
  • ‘The Lipu Lekh Road: some reflections’. Invited virtual talk (35 mins talk plus 25 mins of Q&A) hosted by the Dehradun-ˇbased organization ‘Been There Doon That’ on Facebook Live in early June, 2020.
  • ‘Exploring Connectivity in a Trans-ˇHimalayan Border Region’. Presentation made at the 2nd Conference of the Nordic Himalayan Research Network, hosted by the University of Copenhagen in May 2019.
  • ‘Dynamic borderlands: exploring historic and contemporary cultural and economic linkages between the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau.’
    • Presentation made at the ‘Heidelberg Dialogue on International Security 2018: Limits - Conflicts, Clarification, Consequences’, hosted by Forum für internationale Sicherheit Heidelberg e.V., Germany in November 2018.
    • Presentation made at the DAAD-Stipendiatentreffen für Sozialwissenschaften, hosted by Bergen University, Germany in April 2018.
  • ‘Developing a framework to assess the cultural ecosystem services of sacred natural sites in the Himalayas’. ‘Brown Bag’ presentation made at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, in September 2016.
  • ‘Corridors of passage or productive corridors? Rethinking Himlayan corridors through the experience of the Shaukas of Kumaon and Far Western Nepal.’ Paper presented at the 14th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS), hosted by Bergen University, Norway in June 2016.
  • ‘Assessing and harnessing trans-boundary cultural and historic ties to integrate conservation and development: case studies from ICIMOD’s trans-boundary programme.’ Presentation made at the Mongolian and Inner Asia Studies Unit (MIASU), of the Department of Anthropology, Cambridge University, in June 2016.
  • ‘In the shadow of Mt Kailash: The politics of visual constructions in a trans-boundary cultural landscapes’. Presentation made as a part of the ‘Visual Constructions of South Asia Series’ at Center for South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, in November 2015.
  • ‘Heritage Valuation and its role in the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative’. Presentation made at the KSLCDI Stakeholders’ Workshop for Heritage Tourism in Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan Province, China, in November 2014.
  • ‘The Cry of the Rasta Man: the Innovative Use of Black Histories and Folk Traditions in Bob Marley’s Music’. Paper presented at the 4th International Folklore Congress organised by the Nepali Folklore Congress at Kathmandu, Nepal, in August 2012.
  • ‘Negotiating Change: the Shifting Contours of the Object, Field and Method in a Short-term Qualitative Project in Ballimaran’. Co-authored with A.J. Dalmia, V.Upraity and S.K. Bhangu. Paper presented at the biennial Research Scholars’ workshop in the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, in February 2012.
  • ‘An Anthropology of Well-being in Christiania‘. Paper presented at the Final Conference of the European Studies Programme of the University of Delhi in November 2011, at DU.
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