From a Trickle to a Torrent: Education, Migration, and Social Change in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal

New Book from Geoff Childs, ​Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Book Description

What happens to a community when the majority of young people leave their homes to pursue an education? From a Trickle to a Torrent documents the demographic and social consequences of educational migration from Nubri, a Tibetan enclave in the highlands of Nepal. The authors explore parents’ motivations for sending their children to distant schools and monasteries, social connections that shape migration pathways, young people’s estrangement from village life, and dilemmas that arise when educated individuals are unable or unwilling to return and reside in their native villages. Drawing on numerous decades of research, this study documents a transitional period when the future of a Himalayan society teeters on the brink of irreversible change.

About the Author

Professor Childs' research occupies the interdisciplinary space between anthropology and demography, and thereby involves the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods. He uses demography as a tool to understand what is happening within a population, for example, to reveal the timing and magnitude of a fertility decline, or to discern patterns of out-migration. He then uses ethnography to gain leverage on what drives these trends, and how they impact the lives of individuals.

Working between a positivistic discipline (demography) whose practitioners prefer to study phenomena that can be measured and quantified, and a reflexive discipline (anthropology) whose practitioners tend to celebrate their innumeracy, poses certain challenges. But those challenges are outweighed by the rewards of stimulating research, collaboration with colleagues across the disciplines, and the ability to publish in professional journals outside of anthropology. Thus far Childs has completed research on four distinct Tibetan societies.