Lauren Carter

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Jan H. French


This thesis explores the socio-cultural and economic transformations in the Mustang region of Nepal. Drawing from fieldwork conducted over a month, this study examines how traditional economic activities, particularly yak herding, are being replaced by tourism and agriculture due to shifting socio-economic conditions and global influences. The concept of 'adaptive traditionality' is introduced to describe how the community in Mustang actively engages with both internal pressures and external changes to reshape their socio-cultural landscape. This adaptability is evident in the transition from nomadic pastoralism to more sedentary agricultural practices and tourism, which not only reflects a survival tactic but also a strategic choice to maintain community cohesion and identity. The thesis also delves into generational shifts within Mustang, highlighting how younger generations navigate between home and foreign opportunities. This mobility is seen as a form of cultural exchange that does not signify a detachment from tradition but rather a complex negotiation of identity, where traditional values are both challenged and reinforced. Additionally, the impact of geopolitical shifts, particularly the influence of Chinese infrastructure projects and border controls, is analyzed to understand how these factors reshape economic practices and community dynamics in Mustang. The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining semi-structured interviews, informal dialogues, and participant observation, to provide a nuanced understanding of how economic realities directly and indirectly affect lifestyles in Mustang. This research fills a gap in the existing literature by linking macro-level changes such as infrastructure development and migration patterns to micro-level transformations within community structures in Mustang. It highlights the importance of viewing these adaptations through the perspectives of the local inhabitants, who are not passive recipients of change but active participants.

Included in

Anthropology Commons