In today’s world hunter-gatherer societies struggle with seemingly insurmountable problems: deforestation and encroachment, language loss, political domination by surrounding communities. Will they manage to survive? This book is about one such society living in the monsoon rainforests of western Nepal: the Raute. Kings of the Forest: The Cultural Resilience of Himalayan Hunter-Gatherers, by Jana Fortier, explores how this elusive ethnic group, the last hunter-gatherers of the Himalayas, maintains its traditional way of life amidst increasing pressure to assimilate.
“Jana Fortier has made an important and original contribution to the ethnography of Nepal that focuses our attention on one of that country’s least known ethnic groups, the foraging people known as the Raute; indeed, her book is one of only a small handful of monographic-length treatments of foraging peoples in South Asia since Seligmann’s work on the Veddahs of Sri Lanka. In exploring the way the nomadic Raute have managed to resist the pressure of the wider world around them to settle down and to heed the seductive overtures of ‘development’, Fortier makes a compelling case for respecting the autonomy of foraging people and learning from a vanishing way of life. This is an exemplary work of scholarship based on meticulous and difficult fieldwork. Fortier’s prose is lucid, engaging and accessible, and this book will be an ideal text for undergraduate classes.” —Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College
May 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3356-5 / $24.00 (PAPER)