19 Oct 2015

ANTHONY ARIS (1946-2015).

Photograph from Tibetan and Himalayan Healing. An Anthology for Anthony Aris

Anthony Aris, who passed away on 14 October, made two distinctive contributions to Tibetan and Himalayan studies.

The first contribution came in his capacity as the founder of Serindia Publications which, over the last thirty years, has become renowned for its beautifully produced volumes on a range of topics in our field. Titles of special interest to Ladakh scholars include Roger Goepper’s Alchi: Ladakh’s Hidden Buddhist Sanctuary (1996). Among the many other Serindia volumes, the most notable include Samten Karmay’s The Secret Visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1998) and Tibetan Medical Paintings (1992), which displays as many as 8,400 individual images and inscriptions on 77 thangkas. All these publications reflect Anthony’s care, attention to detail and personal enthusiasm.

His second contribution is less tangible, more personal and perhaps more important. Anthony was richly endowed with the gift of friendship. Often mischievous but never malicious, Anthony loved the good things of life—above all good people and good company. His presence was in itself a source of warmth and encouragement.

Anthony’s first introduction to the Himalayan region came through his twin brother Michael, who in the 1960s became the tutor to the future King of Bhutan, and was later well-known both as a scholar of Tibet and Bhutan and as the endlessly supportive husband of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Near-identical in appearance, the two brothers differed in character. To outward appearances, Michael often seemed serious, even austere. Anthony, on the other hand, came across as much more relaxed, a spontaneous bon viveur, but with deep personal integrity.

After Michael’s death from cancer in 1999, Anthony  helped set up the Michael Aris Fund for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies in his memory. The Fund’s contributions include an endowment for a lectureship in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at Oxford University. The Fund also helped sponsor the 2001 IALS conference  at Mansfield College in Oxford, and we are grateful to him for that support.

Last year, Anthony was himself diagnosed with cancer. When news of his illness became known, Charles Ramble and Ulrike Roesler—the first two scholars to hold the Oxford lectureship—organised a felicitation volume Tibetan and Himalayan Healing. An Anthology for Anthony Aris (Kathmandu: Vajra, 2015).  The hope was that the project would itself serve as a source of encouragement and healing for Anthony. The book was launched in March on Anthony’s birthday. It runs to 762 pages, with 60 articles including at least four on Ladakh. The authors’ enthusiastic and rapid response testifies to the breadth and depth of their esteem for Anthony. 

Anthony is survived by his wife Marie-Laure, two children, grandchildren and the widest circle of friends.

John Bray

2 Sept 2015

Call for papers for the 4th conference of The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) at University of Texas at Austin, Feb 26-28,2016.

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) is pleased to announce that its 4rd annual conference will be held at the University of Texas at Austin, February 26 – 28, 2016. The conference is hosted by the South Asia Institute and convened by Dr. Heather Hindman.

Panel, Roundtable & Paper Proposals
The Organizing Committee invites proposals for panels, roundtables, and individual papers. Interdisciplinary panels that allow discussion are particularly encouraged. If you wish to propose an alternative format, please contact the Convener at hsc4@anhs-himalaya.org.

Complete Panels
Proposals may be submitted for panels themed around a topic, region, film, or significant publication. A single panel will typically have 3-4 slots (to be divided between presenters and discussant – if appropriate), while a double panel would have 7-8 slots (including a discussant). Prospective panel organizers should send a 300-word panel abstract along with the names and affiliations of the proposed panelists to hsc4@anhs-himalaya.orgby September 21, 2015. Panel organizers will be notified by October 1, 2015 whether their proposal has been accepted. If accepted, each individual presenter who has committed to the panel is required to submit a 200-word abstract of his or her paper by September 212015.

Roundtable sessions on a topic of broad interest involving a number of participants and a moderator are welcome. A roundtable is designed as a forum for intensive discussion, usually based on a set of pre- circulated readings or shared interests. Prospective roundtable organizers should send a 300-word abstract along with the names and affiliations of the proposed participants to hsc4@anhs-himalaya.org by September 21, 2015. Roundtable organizers will be notified by October 1, 2015 whether their proposal has been accepted. If accepted, each participant in the roundtable session will be required to register and pay the conference fee.

Individual Papers
Proposals for individual papers are also welcome and will be clustered into panels based on topic by the Organizing Committee. Participants wishing to present an individual paper should send a 200-word abstract,including a paper title, along with their affiliation and a brief CV to hsc4@anhs-himalaya.org by September 21, 2015. Applicants will be notified by October 1, 2015 whether their abstract has been accepted and of the likely theme of the panel in which the paper has been accommodated.

Registration & Costs
Please ensure that your ANHS –––membership is up to date. Membership rates and other details are available on the ANHS website, anhs-himalaya.org. Payment can be made online.
Conference registration rates will soon be finalized. The rates are expected to be in the range of $120, with discounts for currently enrolled students and participants who register early. The registration fee is expected to cover most meals for the duration of the conference.
Registration details and rates will be sent to all participants whose proposals / abstracts are accepted. Payment should be made online at least once month in advance of the conference.
No onsite registration will be available.

Deadline for initial abstracts September 21, 2015
Notification of acceptance Oct. 1, 2015
Deadline for accepted abstracts September 21, 2015
Conference registration opens Nov. 1, 2015
Early Bird registration ends Dec. 15, 2015
Registration closes Jan. 31 2016

Main link: https://hscaustin.wordpress.com/cfp/ 

31 Aug 2015

Panel on Himalayan Climate Change: the RAI and British Museum's conference on Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change

This may be of interest to some of our members. The Royal Anthropological Institute and the British Museum will be hosting a special conference next May examining Anthropology's contribution to weather and climate research and discourse production. Himalayan anthropologist Ben Campbell and I are co-convening a panel that will explore climate science, its evidence and associated policies, and their interaction with local experience and interpretation in the Himalayan context. The focus is on anthropological method, but we do wish to consider this in the wider policy context. We therefore welcome those contributing to projects of conservationists, engineers, governmental and non-governmental organisations working with climate change agendas, as well as those engaged in more "classical" anthropological research.

If you are interested in submitting a paper, please follow the link below:


The Call for Papers will remain open until Friday, 8th January 2016.

11 Aug 2015

The 17th IALS Conference Report

~   By Dr. Sonam Wangchok

       The 17th conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) was held at the Tourist Facilitation Centre, Kargil from 26-29, July 2015. The conference was organised by IALS in collaboration with LAHDC, Kargil and J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Kargil. A total of around 90 scholars, scientists and students from different parts of the world registered for the conference and attended various sessions, demonstrating a great interest to learn and share knowledge. Forty six papers, including 5 in Urdu, were presented and three documentary films were screened during the conference. The participants and presenters were of diverse background from within and outside Ladakh, including scholars from different universities. Unfortunately, some participants, including research students from Jammu University, could not make it to Kargil due to heavy rain fall and road blockage at Sonamarg.

The inaugural session took place at the Syed Mehdi Memorial Auditorium Hall Kargil on 26th July 2015. The Chairman of the J&K Legislative Council, Hajji Anayat Ali was the Chief Guest and Chief Executive Councilor LAHDC, Kargil, Hajji Hanifa Jan was the Guest of Honour for the inaugural session. This session started with a welcome speech by Gulzar Husain Munshi, the conference convener. This was followed by introductory speeches by IALS President John Bray and an insightful address from the keynote speaker, Prof. P.Stobdan, former Indian Ambassador. Executive Councilors, Syes Abass Razvi and Tsering Angdus were also present on the occasion.

The sessions on Climate Change and Water Management, Folk Art, Ethnography and Material Culture and Governance and political Change were successfully covered in three sessions on the first day. On the second day, there were sessions on Development, Religion and History, Agriculture and Heritage Conservation. Two documentary films were screened on the second day, including “In the Lap of the mountains: The Irrigation Systems of Ladakh’s Farming Communities” by Joe Hill and “Buddhist Art: a Fragile Inheritance” by Prof. David Park. The Biennial General Meeting of the Association took place after the final session. The conference dinner was held at Tourist Facilitation Centre on the same day.

Day Three included sessions on Folk Art, Ethnography and Material Culture (2), Art and Architecture, papers in Urdu, Biodiversity Conservation, Heritage Conservation (2), Contemporary Society and Contemporary History. The election results for the posts of President, Ladakh Liaison Officer and eight members in the advisory committee were also announced on the day three. Dr Sonam Wangchok was elected the president, Dr Konchok Paldan was elected as secretary uncontested and Tashi Morup was elected the Ladakh Liaison Officer. The elected members in the advisory committee include Tashi Ldawa Tsangspa, Kacho Mumtaz Khan, Dr Iqbal Ahmed, John Bray, Dr Amjad Ali, Dr Monisha Ahmed, Gulzar Husain Munshi and Tsewang Rigzin. The day ended with the screening of a documentary film “Hajira: The Story of a Woman Journalist in Ladakh” by Tashi Morup and Mabel Disket from LAMO, Leh. IALS is grateful to all presenters for ensuring that their papers were completed within the allotted time. An excursion tour to Kartse Khar and Hunderman village were organised on 29th July, 2015. This was followed by a dinner hosted by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil at tourist Facilitation Centre. Shri Hassan Khan, former Member of Parliament, Hajji Hanifa Jan, CEC Kargil, Brigadier V.P.S. Kaushik, Commander 121 Brig., Lt. Col. K. Swaminathan, AAG, 121 Brigade and executive councillors were also present at the dinner. The conference would not have been possible without the support of LAHDC, Kargil, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Kargil Development Authority, Tourism Department, Kargil and many individuals from Kargil, especially conference convenor Mr Gulzar Hussain Munshi and Deputy Secretary/Special Officer for Culture (Grade 1), Nazir Hussain and their team of volunteers. The Association is grateful to all the organisations and individuals who contributed to the success of the 17th IALS conference.

To end at personal note I am honoured to be the first Ladakhi to become the president of IALS in 35 years of the association. I take this as an opportunity more than a challenge to continue my aspirations for the success of the Association and look forward to working with executive and advisory committees and the larger membership of the Association. ~

   The participants of the 17th IALS Conference, Kargil
    Photo credit: IALS/Sunetro Ghosal

18 May 2015

NOTICE for the second  WORKSHOP on :

is scheduled for  Saturday, 23rd May 2015 at Degree College, Kargil and it will be followed by two
more workshops in Leh at degree college and at Central Institute for Buddhist Studies, Choglamsar.

IALS executive members, advisors and scholars from Leh and

Kargil will attend the workshop. 

We are happy to invite participation of students interested in research and Ladakh Studies. 

For further
details contact secretaryials@ladakhstudies.org "

3 Apr 2015

IALS conference meeting held in Kargil

The Kargil members and representatives of the Executive Committee of the International Association for Ladakh Studies held a meeting to formalise plans for the 17th biennial IALS conference, which is scheduled to be held from 26 to 29 July, 2015. Conference convenor Gulzar Munshi and IALS secretary Dr. Sonam Wangchok jointly chaired the meeting.
At the meeting different issues related to the conference were discussed including potential venues and accommodation in Kargil for outstation participants. At this meeting it was decided to invite talks in Purigi, Bhoti and Urdu to encourage non English scholarship. Further it was also decided to provide concessions to local students from Kargil and Leh to encourage their participation.
Mohammed Ali Tak, cultural officer, Kargil also attended the meeting and suggested various cultural activities that would enrich the conference. In addition, members of the Student Educational Movement of Kargil (SEMOK) also attended the meeting and volunteered to help with the organisation of the conference.  It was then decided to waive off the conference fees for such volunteers. Conference convenor Gulzar Munshi expressed his happiness with the participant of the youth in the conference. He said, “They are the future and such opportunities provide exposure to our youth at the international level.”
Dr Sonam Wangchok, secretary IALS said, “It is very heartening to see the enthusiasm from the youth in Kargil and Leh for research. As a follow up to our previous research workshops, we plan to have a second set of workshops in Leh and Kargil in May as a build up to the conference.”

15 Mar 2015

The 2015 ANHS Senior Fellowship Program Announcement: Senior Fellowship Award

Please see link to the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies' Senior Fellowship Award, which may provide an opportunity for some of our members to receive a small amount of research funding. The ANHS annually awards senior fellowships for support of short-term research or other scholarly projects that will advance knowledge of the Himalaya-Karakoram-Hindukush mountain regions. The fellowship will support work focusing on any aspect of Himalayan studies, and is open to members and non-members of the ANHS. The award for ANHS individual members or scholars affiliated with ANHS institutional members will be US$1,500. For all other scholars, the award will be US$1,250.

The deadline for submissions is 21st April 2015.


21 Feb 2015

Narratives of Ladakh: enquiry into the vernacular art and architecture in the high mountains

Please follow the link below for information on this interesting programme examining the aesthetic and practical value of Ladakh's vernacular art and architecture. The programme is being hosted this summer by the Institute of Design, Environment and Architecture at the Indus University, Ahmedabad. Exhibitions will also be held in Kargil and Ahmedabad in June this year.

It is of interest for students of art, art history, architecture, design and planning.


4 Feb 2015

Landslide in Zangskar blocking the Tsarap

I appreciate we do not usually give much coverage to regional news stories on this blog but the landslide in Zangskar that has blocked the Tsarap downstream of Marshun is certainly worthy of a mention. The landslide has impeded flow on the river and has already created an estimated 8KM lake. It has serious implications for the immediate Zangskar region and potentially the wider region should the landslip breach in a single catastrophic event. There is plenty of information on the internet covering the subject but a comprehensive summary is provided here by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.

31 Jan 2015

The Military and Denied Development in the Pakistani Punjab: An Eroding Social Consensus (2014)

Some of our members may be interested in this new title, publishing the results of a research project for which Ladakh Studies member Sohaib Bodla acted as researcher alongside Shahrukh Rafi Kha and Aisim Sajjad Akhtar. The title is of interest to students, researchers and academics operating in development studies including in the fields of economics, history, sociology and political science, as well as those with an interest in the military and development.

The book focuses on the retrogressive agrarian interventions by the Pakistani military in rural Punjab and explores the social resentment and resistance it triggered, potentially undermining the consensus on a security state in Pakistan. Set against the overbearing and socially unjust role of the military in Pakistan’s economy, this book documents a breakdown in the accepted function of the military beyond its constitutionally mandated role of defence. Accompanying earlier work on military involvement in industry, commerce, finance and real estate, the authors’ research contributes to a wider understanding of military intervention, revealing its hand in various sectors of the economy and, consequently, its gains in power and economic autonomy.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please follow the link below:

The book is published by Anthem Press and retails at £60 / US$99.

Author Details

Shahrukh Rafi Khan is a Visiting Professor of economics at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar is Assistant Professor of political economy at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Sohaib Bodla is currently working as a freelance writer and researcher, and as a volunteer for NGOs including the Dutch development organization, Cordaid.