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Riamsara Knapp

Riamsara Kuyakanon Knapp, Ph.D.




Ph.D. in Human Geography
University of Cambridge, U.K.

Ph.M. in Environment, Society & Development
University of Cambridge, U.K.

M.A. (Jt Hons) in English Literature & Classics
University of Edinburgh, U.K.


Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment
(The School for Field Studies)

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Riamsara Kuyakanon Knapp, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Political and Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environment


Professional Activities

Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute
Member, American Association of Geographers
Member, Bhutan Ecological Society
Member, European Society for Environmental History
Member, Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies
Member, Society for Conservation Biology, Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group
Fellow, Royal Geographical Society
Member, Royal Society for the Protection of Nature

Faculty Profile

Riamsara’s work addresses the relationship between conservation, culture and development, with particular attention to non-Western perspectives and the expression of Buddhist philosophies and the ways in which conservation landscapes are culturally inflected. Specifically, she is interested in the relationship between environmental conservation and Buddhist beliefs and practices in Bhutan, with particular focus on sacred sites conservation, whether it be through places such as neys or beyul, or practices such as ridam. From 2011-2012 Riam was affiliated to the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, during which time she conducted doctoral research on the relationship between environmental conservation and Buddhist beliefs and practices in Bhutan. Since then Riam has taught the Human Geography Tripos in the Dept. Geography at the University of Cambridge, and the Diploma in International Development at the Institute for Continuing Education, University of Cambridge. Riam is from Bangkok, Thailand.



Kuyakanon, R. and Gyeltshen, D. (2017). Propitiating the Tsen, Sealing the Mountain: Community mountain-closure ritual and practice in eastern Bhutan. Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, vol 37 No.1. http://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol37/iss1/7/
Tharchen, L. (2013). Protected Areas and Biodiversity of Bhutan. Edited by Kuyakanon Knapp, R.S. Thimphu, Bhutan: Lhendup Tharchen.
Phuntsho, S., Schmidt, K., Kuyakanon Knapp, R.S. and Temphel, K.J. (Eds.) (2011). Community Forestry in Bhutan: Putting People at the Heart of Poverty Reduction. Jakar, Bhutan: Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) and Social Forestry Division, Royal Government of Bhutan.

Book Chapters

Higgins-Zogib, Liza, Khenpo Phuntsok Tashi, Tshewang Gyalpo, Sangay Dendhup, Riamsara Kuyakanon Knapp, Kelzang Wangchuk, Ngawang Gyeltshen and Lopen Namgay Tenzin. (2016). Sacred Mandala: Protecting Bhutan’s Sacred Natural Sites. In Verschuuren, B. (Ed.), Asian Sacred Natural Sites: An Ancient Asian Philosophy and Practice with Fundamental Significance to Protected Areas. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Kuyakanon Knapp, R. (2014). Reflections on a Bhutanese Buddhist environmental narrative. In Kumagai, S. (Ed.), Bhutanese Buddhism and Its Culture, pp. 183-205. Kathmandu: Vajra.
Kuyakanon Knapp, R. (2014). When does “fieldwork” begin? Negotiating pre-field ethical challenges: Experiences in “the academy” and planning fieldwork in Bhutan. In Lunn, J. (Ed.), Fieldwork in the Global South: Ethical Challenges and Dilemmas, pp. 13–24. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Kuyakanon Knapp, R. (2012). Buddhist sacred natural sites conservation: a meeting ground between local and international. In Ura K., and Chophel, D. (Eds.), Buddhism Without Borders: Proceedings of the International Conference on Globalized Buddhism. Bumthang, Bhutan, May 21-23, 2012, pp. 122-135. Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies.