27 Sept 2016

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes Conference Mountains and Sacred Landscapes - UPDATE: CALL FOR PAPERS EXTENSION

Ladies and Gents, here are updated details for the conference advertised back in August:

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes
An International Conference of the
International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
Co-sponsored and hosted by:
India China Institute, The New School
In partnership with:
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University
April 20 – 23, 2017
The New School, New York City
Extended Submission Deadline: Oct 10, 2016 5pm EST *
Follow the Conference on Twitter: #MTNSL2017

Featured Speakers Include:
  • Ed Bernbaum – Scholar of comparative religions and mythology, Senior Fellow at The Mountain Institute and Award-winning author of Sacred Mountains of the World and The Way to Shambhala
  • Ben Orlove – Professor of Anthropology, Senior Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and Co-director of the Center for Research in Environmental Decisions
  • David Rothenberg – Professor of Philosophy and Music and author of Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song and Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science and Evolution

Call for Proposals and Papers
The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), in cooperation with the India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) are excited to announce an international conference on the theme of mountains and sacred landscapes.

Since its founding in 2006, the ISSRNC has promoted critical inquiry into the complex relationships between human beings, the religious dimensions of their cultures, and the environments which they inhabit and from which they evolved. This year’s conference will feature a series of special presentations based on recent field research by the India China Institute’s Sacred Himalaya Initiative on the intersections of religion, nature and culture.

The conference seeks to critically explore the ways in which the idea of sacred landscapes is entangled with diverse communities, with particular attention to mountain landscapes. The conference will feature interdisciplinary dialogue about what kinds of meanings shape, and are shaped by, the effects of climate change, mass extinction, human population growth and ecological degradation of mountains, forests, rivers and other sacred landscapes.

As we enter the new geologic epoch that scientists and scholars are referring to as the Anthropocene, diverse global mountain communities have begun to face growing social, economic, political, and ecological challenges. Melting glaciers, shifting agricultural patterns, conflicts over mining and resource extraction, risks to livelihoods, and the consequences of increasingly erratic global climate change pose unknown future challenges to many sacred landscapes, including mountain communities and ecosystems around the world, as well as the human and non-human beings that rely on them.
We invite scholars from all disciplines, including environmental history and environmental studies, science studies, anthropology, philosophy, political science, religious studies and geography, to submit proposals related to sacred landscapes.

Proposals may address any of the following themes:

  • Challenges and opportunities for sacred landscapes in the 21st century
  • Theoretical and/or religious conceptualizations of place, space, and landscape
  • Negotiation of community, climate change, and mountain spirituality
  • Traditional/local knowledge and its effects on social and ecological justice
  • Ecosystem sustainability and the future of mountain and forest people
  • Ecosystem destruction and the fate of the non-human community
  • Mountains as diverse ecosystems and sites of religious negotiation
  • Manifestations of the sacred in diverse landscapes
  • Negotiating environmental challenge through ritual practices

This year’s conference explicitly seeks to disrupt the conventional “three people reading papers” session. We seek innovative and unconventional proposals from all fields for this interdisciplinary conference. We invite proposals for individual papers, entire sessions, round-tables, interactive workshops, conversations, and alternative formats. We are also proposing two experimental TEDx style presentations of 10 minutes with 5-7 presenters.

Submission Guidelines
Monday, October 10th by 5pm EST is the deadline for paper and panel proposals. Submission guidelines, the travel aid application process and details about requesting Visa letters can be found on the ICI website at: www.indiachinainstitute.org/20 17conference/CFP and conference-related questions and inquiries can be directed to: sacredmountains2017@gmail.com.

Participation Requirements for Presenters
All presenters must be members in good standing of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture and registered for the conference by March 1, 2017. All scholars interested in religion, nature and culture are encouraged to support the Society by joining or renewing at the ISSRNC membership page.

Presenters and session organizers are encouraged to submit their articles for publication, or their sessions for special issues, to the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (JSRNC).

Conference Sponsors

India China Institute

Interested scholars are also encouraged to follow the ICI Facebook page, Twitter @india_china and our YouTube channel.

International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC)
More information about the society and journal online: www.religionandnature.com/soci ety/. Interested scholars are also encouraged to follow theISSRNC Facebook page, Twitter @ISSRNC and Academia.edu.

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
More information about the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development online: www.icimod.org. Interested scholars are also encouraged to follow the ICIMOD Facebook page, Twitter @icimod and YouTube channel.

Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University (CLALS)More information about the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University online: www.american.edu/clals/. Interested scholars are invited to follow the Center on Twitter @AU_CLALS and Facebook.

Please follow the weblink below for more information.


22 Aug 2016

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes Conference, India and China Institute, April 20 – 23, 2017 The New School, New York City

Some of our members may be interested in attending this forthcoming conference to be hosted by the India and China Institute at the New School, New York City:

For the past three years, the India China Institute has been undertaking the second phase of a Luce Foundation supported research project looking at the intersection of religion, ecology and transboundary social and cultural issues in the Himalayas, known as the Sacred Landscapes and Sustainable Futures in the Himalaya Initiative (SHI). This project builds on the past three years of successful research as part of the Everyday Religion and Sustainable Environments in the Himalaya (ERSEH) Initiative.
The conference in April of 2017 will feature presentations from ICI’s core research team who has been working on this project for the past several years, as well as from our partners at ICIMOD and their work on the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI). You can learn more about both projects on our Sacred Himalaya Initiative page, including reading several published stories from the field, view interactive maps from the project area, and learn more about Mount Kailash and the many challenges and opportunities facing Himalayan mountain communities.

For more information about the conference and how to submit a paper proposal, please visit the webpage: http://www.indiachinainstitute.org/2017conference/ 

The paper call remains open until Monday, 5th September.

20 Aug 2016

Watercolour sketches of Ladakh, 1886

During the period of British rule in India, army officers commonly went on extended treks to Ladakh during their leaves. Some took their cameras. Others carried sketchbooks. Now a Canadian bookshop is selling a book containing watercolours of Ladakh drawn by a British army officer, Major C.B. Templer, in 1886.

The one shown here depicts a 'Tartar' nomadic encampment, presumably in Rupshu. Another shows the palace and town of Leh, looking north towards the Khardong la.

You can find out more by looking at the bookshop's website: http://www.wayfarersbookshop.com/show_details.php?txtBOOK=1521

John Bray

The British Library's Wise Drawings

Here is a link to a blog on the British Library website by Diana Lange, who contributed to the 2013 IALS conference in Heidelberg:


As you can read on the blog, Diana has been working on the  'Wise Drawings', a set of 'picture maps' commissioned by a British official in the mid-19th century.  Diana has discovered the name of the official: a Major William Edward Hay, who was Assistant Commissioner in Kulu. However, we do not yet now the name of the monk who actually drew the images.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Diana's article, you will see that you can now examine the drawings online. The image shown here (complete with British Library 'water mark') shows the Leh palace and bazaar. There is another showing parts of Zangskar, and still others showing the route between Ladakh and Lhasa.

John Bray

20 Jul 2016

Art, Architecture and Petroglyphs in Ladakh

I am delighted to report the publication of two new books on Ladakh. The first is Visible Heritage. Essays on the Art and Architecture of Greater Ladakh, edited by Rob Linrothe and Heinrich Pöll and published by Studio Orientalia. 

This contains ten papers from the 16th conference of the IALS, held in Heidelberg (Germany) in April 2013. The subjects range from temple architecture to fortifications, vernacular architecture and the beautiful set of mid-19th century pictorial maps known as the Wise Collection. 

For further details on the contents and how to order the book, please see the publisher’s website:

The second book is Rob Linrothe’s Seeing into Stone. Pre-Buddhist Petroglyphs and Zangskar’s Early Inhabitants, also published by Studio Orientalia. For further details please see:http://www.studioorientalia.com/index.php?p=bookdetails&String=9788192450285

Both publications are lavishly illustrated, true labours of love by the authors, editors and publisher.

John Bray

15 Jul 2016

Call for Papers (Deadline for abstract submission: THursday, 15th September 2016)

  Current Western Himalayan Research

18th Colloquium of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS)                                                       Bedlewo, Poland, 2nd-6th May 2017

The 18th Conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) will be jointly organized by the Board of Polish Academy of Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin, and the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. It will be held at the Bedlewo Conference Centre near Poznan, Poland from Tuesday, 2nd to Saturday, 6th May 2017.

The conference theme will focus broadly on 
Current Western Himalayan Research with the aim of gathering together senior and independent researchers, postgraduate students, and practitioners from across all academic disciplines. Whilst precedence is given to Ladakh-oriented research, we wish also to encourage studies that focus upon the wider Himalayan belt, including the neighboring high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Pakistan. The conference will have an interdisciplinary character as is the tradition and trademark of IALS colloquia.
We are now accepting abstracts of up to 400 words. If you wish to apply, please download and complete the conference application form and submit to the following email address: Ials2017bedlewo@gmail.com

Proposed sessions’ structure:
We strongly encourage participants from various scientific disciplines to submit an abstract in the following sessions:
- Cultural and social change
- Religious transformations
- Economic transformation in rural areas
- Heritage, conservation and restoration
- New data in Himalayan studies
- Climate change: resilience and adaptation
- Development practices
- Health and well being
- Historical issues

In addition, we invite suggestions and proposals for additional panel sessions, although please inform us swiftly of any intention, indicating with whom you would like to cooperate or convene such a panel.
Documentary films
We are also issuing a call for good documentary films for those with visual research related to the region and themes of the conference. The process for proposal is the same as for paper abstracts. However, please state the format you would like to present the documentary footage.

All paper proposals will be subject to review by the conference committee before final acceptance. 
The most important consideration is that papers must represent the results of original research, and not simply a restatement of existing knowledge based on the work of well-known authors.

For details including conference fees, terms and deadlines and travel grants, please download and refer to the full Call for Papers.
Please direct all enquiries to the Conference Secretaries:
Rafal Beszterda, Poland
Email: rbeszterda@gmail.com; telephone: +48 61 810 46 22; mobile: +48 601 669 702

Diana Lange, Germany
Email: diana.lange@hu-berlin.de; telephone: +49 30 20 93 66 065; mobile: +49 171 75 25 498
Further conference details will be posted here and at the http://www.etnologia.umk.pl/ials2017 as they are finalised.

30 Jun 2016

Call for papers for Ladakh Studies Journal

Jullay everyone,
~ Call for paper submission in Ladakh Studies journal (with an ISSN number) on any topic related to/on Ladakh. Those interested please feel free to mail/inquire at : journal@ladakhstudies.org or visit the publication page :
http://www.ladakhstudies.org/publications/ladakhstudies.html ~

P.S: The back issues of downloadable Ladakh Studies Journal are also available for use here:

25 May 2016

 18th Conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS), Bedlewo near Poznan, Poland, 2nd – 6th May 2017

The 18th Conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) will be jointly organized by the Board of Polish Academy of Sciences, Humboldt University, and the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. It will be held at the Bedlewo Conference Centre near Poznan, Poland from Tuesday, 2nd to Saturday 6th May 2017.

The conference theme will focus broadly on Current Western Himalayan Research with the aim of gathering together senior and independent researchers, postgraduate students, and practitioners from across all academic disciplines. Whilst emphasis will be placed upon Ladakh-oriented research, we wish also to encourage research focusing upon the wider Himalayan belt to include the neighbouring high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. The conference will have a multidisciplinary character as is the tradition and trademark of IALS colloquia. The Call for Papers will be open from August until mid-November, and decisions will be made by mid-January.

The proposed conference fee will include accommodation, all meals and refreshments, and an excursion to the nearby palace and gardens. Bedlewo Conference Centre is equipped with all modern facilities: single, double and triple rooms with private baths, and we even offer a sauna, small gym, billiards and table tennis for enthusiasts of evening sports. Maybe for the first time we can make some sporting competitions among Himalayan researchers!

We look forward to welcoming you next May.

Conference Secretaries
Rafal Beszterda, Poland
Email: rbeszterda@gmail.com; telephone: +48 61 810 46 22; mobile: +48 601 669 702

Diana Lange, Germany
Email: diana.lange@hu-berlin.de; telephone: +49 30 20 93 66 065; fax: +49 30 20 93 66 084

For further information and the latest updates, please visit the International Association for Ladakh Studies Webpage: http://www.ladakhstudies.org/.

15 May 2016

Extended Call For Papers: 4th International Conference on Sustainable Development, September 2016 in Rome

Dear Members, please see the post below on behalf of Ladakh Studies member Vladimiro Pelliciardi 

Dear Friends, on the behalf of the International Steering Committee I am very pleased to announce the 4th International Conference on Sustainable Development, September 2016 in Rome:


ICSD2016 will be an excellent opportunity to present your projects and discuss the latest results in the field of Sustainability Science. The general aim of the conference is to
promote international collaboration in Sustainability Science and related disciplines.

In the previous 2 conference (2014 and 2015) three papers regarding Ladakh were presented and published or reported on the European Journal of Sustainable Development.  Moreover several other scientists from India were present. Thus the Conference is a good opportunity for other scientists and for researchers from Ladakh to present their works. 

The Call for Papers abstract submission has been extended to Wednesday, 26th May 2016. Please look at the webpage for further details.

The ICSD 2016 is organized by the European Center of Sustainable Development. It will will be held at the Roma Eventi, Piazza della Pilotta, 4 Rome, from Friday 16 to Saturday 17 September, 2016

9 May 2016

International Seminar on Padma Bhushan Kushok Bakula Rinpoche

Call for Papers

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations is sponsoring a conference on the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, to be held in Leh, Ladakh, from 26-28 October 2016. The conference organisers welcome proposals for papers on any aspect of Kushok Bakula’s life and career. Accommodation in Leh will be provided for paper presenters travelling from outside Ladakh. In some cases, it may also be possible to provide domestic and international transport expenses.

Padma Bhushan Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, a saint and scholar from Ladakh,  remained pre-eminent in the life and affairs of Ladakh for over a half century—a half century marked by great social and political changes. More than any other man, he influenced events and public opinion through his religious, cultural, educational and political leadership. He was the 19th incarnation of Arhat Bakula holding the highest degree in Buddhist metaphysics. Until 1947 his life was that of a Buddhist monk mainly occupied by religious studies and spiritual and monastic affairs. But with the coming of independence and the tragic aftermath of the Pakistani attack  on the region in 1947-48, isolated Ladakh and its peace-loving people were drawn into the vortex of history, and Kushok Bakula felt impelled to extend his influence beyond the  religious field. At the urging of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, he played an active part in public life and emerged as the undisputed political, religious and social leader of the Ladakhi people.  He was a Buddhist leader of international repute and represented India on many international forums. In 1986 in recognition to his services to the nation, the President of India conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan award on him. He passed away on 4th November 2004.

For further information, please write to Nawang Tsering Shakspo, Academic Coordinator, at sntsering52@gmail.com. The deadline for paper proposals is 31 July 2016.

 Nawang Tsering Shakspo

30 Jan 2016


I am pleased to announce the publication of the latest edition of the Tibet Journal, which is devoted specifically to Ladakh and neighbouring regions.

The bibliographic details are: Tibet Journal Vol. 40 (2015), No. 2. Special Issue on Ladakh: Historical Perspectives and Social Change. Edited by John Bray, Petra Maurer and Andrea Butcher.

The volume contains a total of 11 papers on broadly ‘Tibetological’ themes, including the region’s political and religious history, contemporary development and social issues, and Ladakhi understandings of colour. Most of the papers were presented at the 16th international conference of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) in Heidelberg in April 2013, together with two additional contributions from Rob Linrothe and Nawang Jinpa.

How to order
The journal is available from the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala as well as Tibet House in Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

It is possible to order individual copies by sending an e-mail to Biblia Impex in New Delhi at contact@bibliaimpex.com. The price is Rs275 per copy, including registered local shipping, for sales within India. The international price is USD24.00, including airmail postage. It is possible to pay by PayPal.

1. “The History of the dGe lugs pa in the Nubra Valley” by Christian Faggionato.

2. “Site Unseen: Approaching a Royal Buddhist Monument of Zangskar (Western Himalayas)” by Rob Linrothe.

3. “Isn’t Life Miserable? The Youth of the Yogin Ngawang Tshering from Ladakh” by Petra Maurer.

4. “Why did Tibet and Ladakh Clash in the 17th Century? Rethinking the Background to the ‘Mongol War’ in Ngari (1679-1684)” by Nawang Jinpa.

5. “A Himalayan Encounter: Lama Lobsang Chospel and Heinrich August Jäschke” by John Bray.

6. “Specialized Vocations in mid-20th Century Ladakh” by Janet Rizvi.

7. “‘The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same’: Idioms of House Society in the Leh Area (Ladakh)” by Sophie Day.

8. “Ceremonial Activities in Development. The Spiritual ‘Problems’ for Ladakh’s Secular Encounter” by Andrea Butcher.

9. “The Dalai Lama’s Visits to Zangskar in 1980, 1988 and 2009. Reflections on Social and Economic Change” by Salomé Deboos.

10. “The Shipki la and its Place in Crossborder Trade between India and Tibet” by Rafal Beszterda.

11. “Perceiving, Naming and Using Colours in Ladakh” by Pascale Dollfus.

John Bray

20 Jan 2016

Third International Conference on Himalayan Studies, Będlewo (Poland), 27-30 April 2016

IALS member Rafaɫ Beszterda has issued a call for papers  for a conference on Current Himalayan Research: Challenges, Problems or Failures to be held at Będlewo (Poland) from 27-30 April 2016. The conference title is broad, designed to appeal to researchers from a variety of different disciplines and backgrounds.

This is the third of a series of small residential conferences that Rafaɫ has organised. I took part in the first of these in 2011. There were some 15 papers, so we had plenty of time to discuss them, and the presenters’ research interests stretched across the Himalayas from Ladakh to Sikkim and even as far as Amdo.

Będlewo is a former country house that once belonged to a Polish aristocrat, and particularly pleasant during the spring. It’s near Poznań, which itself is less than three hours’ by train from Berlin. The 2011 conference provided a relaxed opportunity to meet new people in convivial surroundings. I understand that the 2015 conference lived up to the same tradition, and I am sure that the 2016 one will as well.

Rafaɫ  is keen to confirm numbers, so please hurry to register your interest by writing an e-mail to him now! His address is: rbeszterda@gmail.com.

John Bray