Tina Harris received her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2009 from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and is a member of the AISSR Moving Matters research group.
Her main research interests include aviation, infrastructures, globalization in Asia, and the movement of people and goods across borders. She has conducted field research in Tibet, Nepal, India, and the Netherlands, and has published articles on the pressures of controlling air traffic, borderland airports, and competing discourses over the reopening of a Sino-Indian mountain border. She is author of Geographical Diversions: Tibetan Trade, Global Transactions (UGa Press 2013), a book that examines how state power is both articulated and circumvented by cross-border traders in the Himalayas.
Working at the intersections of cultural anthropology, human geography, and material culture, Tina Harris explores the social and economic transformations taking place along one trade route that winds its way across China, Nepal, Tibet, and India. How might we make connections between seemingly mundane daily life and more abstract levels of global change?
Geographical Diversions focuses on two generations of traders who exchange goods such as sheep wool, pang gdan aprons, and more recently, household appliances. Exploring how traders "make places," Harris examines the creation of geographies of trade that work against state ideas of what trade routes should look like. She argues that the tensions between the apparent fixity of national boundaries and the mobility of local individuals around such restrictions are precisely how routes and histories of trade are produced.
The economic rise of China and India has received attention from the international media, but the effects of major new infrastructure at the intersecting borderlands of these nationstates—in places like Tibet, northern India, and Nepal—have rarely been covered. Geographical Diversions challenges globalization theories based on bounded conceptions of nation-states and offers a smaller-scale perspective that differs from many theories of macroscale economic change.
I am working on a new research project on aviation that will investigate how people working in air traffic management, route planning, and operations sectors are dealing with the recent shifts in global air travel against the backdrop of increasing climate concerns. I also have a number of articles (for instance, "Air Pressure: Temporal Hierarchies in Nepali Aviation;" "Trading Places: New Economic Geographies of Trade Across Himalayan Borderlands;" "Himalayan Border Crossings: Reopenings and Restrictions") and a full-length book manuscript (Geographical Diversions) based on my research on contemporary trade and trade routes in Tibet.