In the Time of a Tree

In progress (to be published fall 2024)

In the Time of Trees is a graphic narrative book that draws from particular ongoing forest rights struggles within India, while also tracing some of their deep rooted colonial histories.

The inception of the book took place while I spent time with women who had earlier led India’s first eco-feminist struggle, located in the Garhwal Himalaya’s. While the movement took place in the 1970s, these women carried on their struggle to save indigenous varieties of plants and trees, and share knowledge of their sustainable farming methods. The deep conversations while staying with them, resulted in short graphic narratives and videos, and a growing personal interest within this terrain.

More recently I have spent time engaging with particular forest dwelling, and displaced, communities of the Shivalik Himalayan foothills, within Uttarakhand. Since 2021, along with various forest rights activists, I began understanding the ways of iving, working and contending with the many changing circumstances within this forest belt, especially for the Van Gujjar community, a semi-nomadic buffalo herding and traditionally forest dwelling community there. Over the years their migration routes have changed, forests have depleted and also tiger conservation and tourism promoting national parks have taken over their landscape.

What has this meant for their families and their livelihoods? How do young people, especially women, imagine their futures, within or outside of their forests? What active steps do activists groups take to oppose the constant threat against this way of life so deeply integrated with the land and trees around them? – these are some of the many conversations I have had through my time there, both with those families that continue to reside within the forest against all odds, and those displaced into ‘resettlement colonies’.