Making of the Mountains: Trans-disciplinary approaches to the Himalayas.
This panel aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines focusing on the production of the Himalayas through gender, material culture, trade and flow of people, goods and ideas. It also hopes to engage with various approaches and methods in studying the mountains.
· Nokmedemla Lemtur Center for Modern Indian Studies, Georg-August Universität Göttingen (Göttingen, Germany)
The Himalayas transcends boundaries and is the epitome of the transnational location. Moving across five countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Pakistan, it is a space inhabited by people with different religion, culture and ethnicity. Recent studies have focussed on the complex and historical relationship that brings in different aspects of various communities that inhabit the region. These studies have explored the Himalayas as a ‘frontier commodification’, ‘contact zone’ and a possible ‘zomia’. The historical construction of mountains began with the ‘Birth of the Altitude’ in the 17th century. In the subsequent centuries through natural history, scientific specialisation and politicisation of the environment, there has been an accelerated globalisation of the mountain as a unique and threatened site. One can also trace its growing significance as different competing powers in this region were confronted with the mountains, not only as a frontier space and borderland but also as the arena for entangled histories. These mountains have stood witness to the colonial expansion, creation of nations and recently the rampant development of hydroelectric dams, roads and infrastructure.Given the magnitude and stretch of the mountains that cut across state boundaries and communities, this panel proposes studying the Himalayas through an interdisciplinary approach and collaboration of scholars, to engage with various ideas regarding the appropriation of mountains through narratives of conquest and gendered landscapes; mountains as space of refuge, trade, performance;a space of material culture where not only art, writings,spirituality but landscape is also produced.