Trans Himalayan Studies
The Centre for Himalayan & Trans-Himalayan Studies was established in 2020. The University of Ladakh being the only Trans-Himalayan university in the country, a need was felt for establishing a dedicated centre for studies on hitherto unexplored or under-explored areas in the Himalayan, trans-Himalayan and possibly the Central Asian regions. Difficulty of access and geo-climatic conditions has prevented so far, the Himalayan and trans-Himalayan regions like Ladakh – their history, geography, environment, climate and culture – from being the focus of incisive studies by scholars and academics and research institutions. A well-equipped centre under the aegis of the newly established University of Ladakh is thought to be the best agent of promoting studies on these difficult and hitherto unexplored regions of the world. The university being in Ladakh, a trade-entrepot on one of the tributaries of the ancient Silk Route, is expected to best facilitate studies on hitherto unexplored or under-explored regions of the country. In India, the Himalayan and trans-Himalayan regions, comprising Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of West Bengal, are distinguished not only as a cold/semi-cold/cold and arid entity but also in historical, linguistic, cultural, political and ecological terms. Why and how these regions constitute a unique field of studies? Under the extreme climatic conditions, the human habitations in these regions have continued to thrive with their unique traditional and cultural practices for centuries. In the process, the people living in the mountains have protected the landscape and scarce resources as intrinsic to their natural attitudes. In fact, they have created for themselves an environment which has all the features of an environmentalist’s dream. For centuries, they have experienced harmonious co-existence with nature and their close environment. Be that as it may, these regions, almost without exception, are experiencing unprecedented socio-economic and socio-cultural transformations – both desired as well as undesired. For example, most of these regions are experiencing a transformation from pastoral economy to cultural industry with the onslaught of global tourism, which brings in its wake both desirable and undesirable impacts. Besides, climate change in these regions is fast redefining their characteristics. In some ways, sudden changes in climate patterns are also adversely impacting the livelihood of many people of these regions and their habitations. An inter-disciplinary research and study programme in the University of Ladakh becomes significant in the foregoing background. The results of such a programme are likely to bring considerable returns to the country’s efforts at developing these regions in the desirable direction imaginatively and in an informed way. The research part of the Centre for Himalayan & Trans-Himalayan Studies is expected to undertake in-depth inter-disciplinary research with specific focus on society, culture, economy, ecology and polity, and, in the obtaining regional tension across international borders and lines of control, also throw light on the geo-strategic importance of these regions. Additionally, the Centre will also research, document and catalogue the human communities in these regions and study how they are bound together by geographic, trade and cultural linkages and have overlapping ethnic and linguistic affiliations that create a continuum frontier culture in and across the Himalayas as a bright patch of the mosaic that is India. The Centre for Himalayan & Trans-Himalayan Studies will offer a doctoral programme in the field of area studies as well. It will contribute to enhance collaborative efforts among the universities and researchers across the sub-continent and the world. The activities shall be carried out in such a manner that it does not merely act as a theoretical research documentation-based Centre, but also serve as a vibrant and intellectually stimulating centre of progressive and meaningful dialogue on societal issues and facilitate translation of constructive ideas into practice. In sum total, the Centre will seek to adopt a dual approach of focussing on society, culture, history, economy, environment and polity, on the one hand, and engage with contemporary issues relating to these on the other.
Mission and Research Activities of the Centre
To pursue multi-disciplinary research, advocacy and teaching practices in studying Himalayan & trans-Himalayan societies, cultures, politics, economics and ecology with the aim of holistic understanding of mankind and socio-cultural development of these regions.
The Centre organized a two-week research Methodology Course in the month of April, 2021 funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Currently, the centre is working on a Major Research Project funded by ICSSR
1. Ph.D. (in Area Studies) 2021 onwards.
Dr. Sonam Joldan
HIMALAYAN & TRANS-HIMALAYAN STUDIES