Ms. Aghaghia Rahimzadeh
Specialization: Interdisciplinary Studies
Home institution in US: University of California, Berkeley
Host Institution in India: Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi  
Start date/Month in India: July 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Ms Aghaghia Rahimzadeh is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University of California, Berkeley. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in community-based natural resource management, broadly focused on how formerly isolated mountain communities adapt to rapid social and economic change. She has an interdisciplinary B.S. focused on social, political and environmental aspects of development and an interdisciplinary M.A. focused on social and environmental aspects of economic globalization, both from Humboldt State University, California.

In 2001 Ms. Rahimzadeh briefly lived in Tajikistan interning with the UN Development Program and volunteering with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Her work with UNIFEM focused on small-scale development projects with women’s cooperatives in rural Tajikistan. She also spent several years living in Iran and working for the IUCN (World Conservation Union). Her work in Iran centered on community-based conservation and livelihood projects with nomadic pastoralist groups. For five years, she also served as executive secretary of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP), an international NGO founded by and working on behalf of nomadic peoples around the world. Ms. Rahimzadeh is an avid traveler and backpacker, whose love of indigenous cultures and wilderness has taken her throughout Asia. During her extensive travels over the past two decades, she was for many years the operator of a small import business and also led Global Exchange “Reality Tours” for Americans in Iran. Intimate with both American and Iranian culture, she offered a unique perspective on Iran’s socio-economic, political and cultural dynamics.

During her Fulbright grant, Ms. Rahimzadeh will investigate the consequences of rapid socio-economic change in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh in the Indian Himalayas. Her Fulbright research project, “Changing Livelihoods in Kinnaur: From Subsistence to Apple-based Market Economy,” examines the transition of the past several decades from subsistence to a market economy dominated by apple production. She will focus on changes in land use and social institutions that have accompanied this transition. Specifically, she is interested in how the transition to a market economy is expressed in different spheres of social organization: livelihood activities, community/family structure and decision-making, resource management, and gender roles and relationships.