Dan, you're a faculty member at the School of Ethnology and Sociology, Yunnan University. Yunnan is the most diverse Indigenous region in China. Can you tell us about your teaching and research there in relation to religion and ecology? Yes. Yunnan is indeed the most ethnically diverse, Indigenously diverse province in China, and it has 26 ethnic groups there, including the majority Han people. My work at Yunnan University is fairly new, my recent faculty position, I was a faculty member at the Yunnan Minzu University, all in the same area next door to each other. Speaking of religion and ecology, it's not as widely researched as we expect from North American perspective, and I would think there are three or four others, like minded scholars doing it together, and some of them you met actually in 2016 with Mary Evelyn Tucker, and you were helping us with the Himalaya Summer School. It's small-scale research in Yunnan. In that sense, Dan, could you locate your work in the broader field of religion and ecology then? My own work, I think I'm quite catching the tide, if I may say so. You and Mary Evelyn have been the great mentors since the year 2009, I believe. I was part of your effort to introduce religion and ecology to China, and we had a conference in 2012. My work I feel is quite up-to-date. And the latest publication was my experiment about trying to connect the natural science notion of critical zone with the new animism. I think I'm quite up-to-date in terms of my research. I feel so too, Dan. In that sense, I wanted to make the connection to Indigenous students that you encounter, are they interested in bringing their cultural roots and response to these environmental issues? Yes and no. Let me start with the no part. The no part is because social science as a humanity in terms of ethnic studies have been focused on the idea of identity a lot. So the politics of identity takes precedence in many of my colleagues study, my students study about their own cultures in Yunnan. They are very happy and willing to share their Native stories, and then their villages, their environment, but the orientation is not so much about religion and ecology per se. Sl let's say the role of a religion rather becomes a marker of ethnic identity, and then the living habitat likewise is also a geographic identity for a particular ethnic group. The intellectual orientation of a religion and ecology is not necessarily how we see it in Europe, America, and Australia. This is how I see that. And then, of course, the yes part is that because the environmental issues are increasingly becoming public topic, and plus the Chinese state also initiated the project, that you're familiar with too, called ecological civilization. Under this framework, the Native scholars and students also started thinking about how they connect to their identity studies, with their religion and ecology. It's a very slow rising. Dan, that's very helpful. Can I shape then the question towards the Himalayan region and draw you out then about the current status of Himalayan peoples in relation to environmental issues? Himalaya region is very big, and actually, Yunnan is a part of Eastern Himalaya, and most people don't think that way. Likewise, people usually don't think Myanmar is part of the Himalaya. Actually, it's all a part of Eastern Himalaya. In my study, I often try to bracket national boundaries away, and look at the Himalayas in the kind of a natural geography and natural geology. By looking at the map like that, and it's very extensive. Extensive in the sense, it's not just the ethnic diversity, it's also biodiversity. It's also topographical diversity and many kinds of diversity, that interface in the Himalaya regions. They're not perceptually, when we talk about Himalayas, people often think about the high mountains, the glaciers and these majestic mountain peaks, but in fact, the higher up in there, let's say anything above 4800 meters or 5000 meters, people rarely live there, and so most people live in the valleys, and they create their communities, and they are very much integrated with the surrounding environment. Himalaya indigeneity in relation to Yunnan Indigenous people, they are very much connected. In terms of linguistics and because of a migration histories, and I often feel we need to re-look at Himalaya regions as integral whole rather than sliced up by different countries. That's so helpful, Dan. Am I right in thinking then that climate emergency issues such as melting glaciers and the damming of waters running off of glaciers, that these are among some of the environmental issues that are quite of concern, of peoples in the region. Very much so because when we talk about water in the Himalayas, I use this image, terrestrial ocean, because Himalaya, oftentimes we call it the water tower on the Asia, but I feel this image is quite smaller scale. And I actually prefer to see the shape shift in the mountains between ocean and the mountains. Because the mountains hold the water, tremendous amount of water, and the cloud, due to climate change and the glaciers melting, this so true. For the last two decades I have worked in Tibetan areas and personally witnessing the melting glaciers on mountain tops, in the span of the 20 years of my research, and it's very significant, it's huge significance. Dan, that gives us an image that brings us into the region, I think in a very important way And so I wanted to just move this discussion towards the religion side a bit using the term "cosmovision." Can I ask how Indigenous cosmovisions and values infused modern Indigenous ecological movements for flourishing life? So the cosmo- vision question. My current work is something I call it, "New Himalayas." It is because I notice that indigeneity or Indigenous people, culture, they change. It's not always what we can see. There is a pure Indigenous culture untouched, pristine. They're heavily affected by colonialism, modernization, globalization, and technological advancement. And oftentimes, the Indigenous cosmovision is rather quite repressed. And not quite expressed that much because younger generations of Indigenous communities often have education outside their homelands. They would go to Delhi, they would go to Yangon, and they would go to Kathmandu, and they go to UK, and they go to United States, and Yale has Bhutanese students. So this the phenomenon about the changing indigeneity. But on the other hand that because people leave their homes and when they look back, they realize, many of them realize their Indigenous cosmovisions are very valuable in the global environmental discourse. That's what I see. I'm aware that in the Himalayan region there was not the colonial oppression that we might associate with the British Raj in India. So the historical background is quite different there, but the term "cosmopolitics" is now being used quite often to discuss that relationship of cosmovision and environmental activism. I was wondering if cosmopolitics describes Indigenous environmental activism in the Himalayan region. What I'm familiar, couple of cases, would be one, the Tibetan case, and another is the is the Lepcha case, and for that you are probably going to have a conversation with Charisma Lepcha in Sikkim and Lepcha people, and they're only about 40,000 Lepcha people currently living in the area It is endangered Indigenous population there. And then when we talk about cosmopolitics in relation to their own sense of the sacredness of the earth. I think a Lepcha example is very telling. For instance, India's dam building projects on the Teesta River, and that really triggered a series of demonstrations. For instance, Australian scholar Kerry Little also has done a lot of work there, and myself too, and I noticed that religion plays a role, especially religious sense of sacred geography, plays a role in protecting Indigenous environmental rights and their homeland. And so Lepcha people is heavily involved in that process, cosmopolitics, if I use your phrase. That's so interesting, Dan. I sense that these observations that you're making, that they come to play in your forthcoming book entitled "Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas: Symbiotic Indigeneity, Commoning, and Sustainability." I wanted to draw you out about just two of the terms here, if I could. "Commoning" is not immediately recognizable, but I think it would be helpful for the audience to hear your understanding of usage of that term. "Commoning" is a word, I think a few other scholars also use that. Our understanding of the commons, let's say the study of commons. Hardin's work "The Tragedy of Commons" and Ostrom's award-winning theories and common collective actions. They all talk about commons as a fixed common property or common pool resources. So the way I and other scholars use commoning is we turned this phrase into a verb, as an action. And then in my research, I particularly focus on water, because water is a liquid. When we look at the Himalayan rivers, the major Tansen rivers, so extensive. And to me, the river itself is doing commoning. Now, I want to emphasize it's the non-human commoning process. Because we often feel, it's a humans doing commoning. We try to share resources. But actually the earth does its own job, and the water is permeating everywhere. And water is insensitive to human political boundaries. Even if you dam it, you try to slice the river, but the force of water creates such an energy and could be creative and could be destructive too. So commoning, to me, in my chapter in that book, I focus on non-human environmental commoning. I associate natural commoning with the idea of environmental freedom. The freedom of environment. It's not a human understanding of a freedom that we fight for, justice and human rights, etc. The human and the environmental freedom that I'm talking about is, I think it's best understood with the idea of deep time. Even before the geological era, so deep, it's just depthless and beyond the humans. Even before human came to the world, the commoning were taking place already. In that sense, I feel the earth deserves its own moral considerability and the livingness of the earth need to be understand by observing its environmental flows. I also feel a very close connection with the next phrase, "symbiotic indigeneity." I feel that's also an innovative term that you've developed. Can you say a bit about that? Symbiotic indigeneity. First of all, symbiotic indigeneity this phrase actually is inspired by earth scientist, the late Lynn Margulis. She wrote the book "Symbiotic Planet." First of all, my idea of a symbiotic indigeneity, again, started with the earth itself, not necessarily a human-centered idea. The earth itself is always in symbiotic process. From a micro level to macro level, life-making process is constant and we can't stop. This is the idea I have. And the symbiosis, essentially the idea is about everything, everyone is in physical contact. We can't avoid it. It's all connected one way or the other. So then symbiosis leads to symbiogenesis, creating new things, etc. This is my idea of the symbiotic earth. And then I extended this idea to the symbiotic indigeneity in terms of human world.