University of Sussex

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(Anti-)fragile lives: enhancing adaptation through storytelling in the Eastern Himalayas

posted on 2023-06-09, 04:47 authored by Alex Aisher
This paper challenges the social scientific focus on what it means to be 'resilient' and instead proposes that anthropologists turn attention to what it means to be 'antifragile' (Taleb 2012), a concept which emphasises the creative and regenerative response of living entities to stress and disorder. Based on longterm ethnographic fieldwork with the Nyishi tribe in the Eastern Himalayas, this paper explores oral accounts by Nyishi hunters and cultivators of the tragedies and social-ecological crises of their ancestors. The paper argues that the local effects of such oral narratives not only challenge Taleb's critique of narrative forms of understanding as "dangerous", but also suggest that narrative may in fact uphold optionality in trial-and-error learning at the centre of Taleb's portrait of what it means to be antifragile.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

International Symposium on Anthropology and Natural Disasters

Event location

Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra

Event type


Event date

April 17-18, 2015

Department affiliated with

  • Anthropology Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Centre for World Environmental History Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • No

Legacy Posted Date