Postgraduate Course: Himalayan Ethnography (PGSP11147)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This optional course is designed to introduce the Himalayan region to students studying in the MSc Programmes of Social Anthropology, Nationalism Studies, and International Politics (amongst others). This mountainous region has long occupied a significant space in the imaginary of global relations from anthropology and religious studies to environmentalism, development and tourism. This course approaches these issues by exploring the history of anthropology and the Himalaya; Popular representations of the Himalaya in the west; natural history and the origins of Himalayan studies; Trekking, mountaineering and its local impact; Religion and the Himalaya; Mountain development and conserving diversity; and politics, from tribal groups to the Maoist movement in Nepal.
Week 1 (22nd Sept): Introduction
This week I will introduce the course, and themes. We will discuss where the Himalaya (Sanskrit: The land of the Snows) lie, what national boundaries lie across these mountains, an introduction into the political history of the region, and why the course is structured as it is.
Fisher, James 2011. Globalisation in Nepal: Theory and Practice. The Mahesh Chandra Regmi Lecture 2011. (Available at: http://www.soscbaha.org/images/DOWNLOADS/mc_2011/mc_2011.pdf
Harris, Tina 2008. Silk Roads and Wool Routes: Contemporary Geographies of Trade Between Lhasa and Kalimpong. India Review, vol. 7, no. 3, July-September, 2008, pp. 200-222
Sara Shneiderman, 2010. Are the Central Himalayas in Zomia? Some scholarly and political considerations across time and space. Journal of Global History (2010) 5, pp. 289-312.
Bauer, K 2004. High Frontiers: Dolpo and the Changing World of Himalayan Pastoralists. New York: Columbia University Press. (Chapters 4: A New World Order in Tibet, and 5: Nepal's Relations with its Border Populations and the case of Dolpo).
McGranahan, Carole 2005.Truth, Fear, and Lies: Exile Politics and Arrested Histories of the Tibetan Resistance. Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 20, Issue 4, pp. 570-600.
Armbrecht Forbes, Ann 1999. Mapping power: disputing claims to Kipat lands in northeastern Nepal American Ethnologist 26(1 ):114-1 38.
Childs, Geoff 2000. Claiming the Frontier: A Note on the Incorporation of Nubri within the Borders of Nepal. SINHAS Vol 5, No. 2, December 2000. Page 217-226
Lewis, Todd. 1993. Himalayan Frontier Trade: Newar Diaspora Merchants and Buddhism. In Charles Ramble & Matin Brauen (eds) 1990. Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya. Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich.
Burghart, R 1984. The Formation of the concept of the Nation-State in Nepal. Journal of Asian Studies 4, 101-25. (Also in his edited volume, The Conditions of Listening)
Week 2 (29th Sept): Popular representations of the Himalaya
This week we will watch Eric Valli's Himalaya (aka Caravan), nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category in 2000. We will read Kenneth Bauer's chapter "A Tsampa Western" and focus the discussion on the question of authenticity and representation. As we shall see, one of the key representational struggles that all writers on the Himalaya grapple with is the trace of the idea of "Shangri-la". In particular, popular writings of Tibet as a magical and timeless place have moulded a western imaginary.
Bauer, K 2004. High Frontiers: Dolpo and the Changing World of Himalayan Pastoralists. New York: Columbia University Press. (Chapter 8, A Tsampa Western p169-186)
Caplan, L 1991. 'Bravest of the Brave': Representations of 'The Gurkha' in British Military Writings. Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Jul., 1991), pp. 571-597
Hansen, Peter. 1996. The Dancing Lamas of Everest: Cinema, Orientalism, and Anglo-Tibetan Relations in the 1920s. The American Historical Review. Vol. 101, No. 3, Jun., 1996: 712-717
Adams, V 1997. Dreams of a Final Sherpa. American Anthropologist 9(1) 85-98.
Adams, Vincanne 1996. Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Caplan, L 1995. Warrior Gentlemen: 'Gurkhas' in the Western Imagination. Oxford: Berghahn.
Diehl, K 2002. Echoes of Dharamsala: Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community. Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press (Chapter 4, The West as Surrogate Shangri-la: Rock and Roll and Rangzen as style and Ideology).
Inden, Ron. 1990. Imagining India. Blackwell.
McKay, Alex, 2001. 'Truth', Perception, and Politics: The British Construction of an Image of Tibet. IN T. Dodin and H. Räther, eds. Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 67-90.
(For this week read any popular account of Tibet and the Himalayas and think about how particular tropes and imaginaries feed into their representations).
Week 3 (6th Oct): Natural history, colonial politics and the origins of Himalayan studies
This week we will look at the conduct of science at the borders of empire, linking colonial science and politics in the Himalaya, and the historical conditions from which we see the emergence of more recent anthropology.
Jacquesson, F 2008. Discovering Boro-Garo: History of an analytical and descriptive linguistic category. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 32: 14-49.
Raj, Kapil 2006. Relocating Modern Science. Delhi: Permanent Black (Chapter Six: When Human Travellers become Instruments: The Indo-British Exploration of Central Asia in the Nineteenth Century pp181-222)
Waterhouse D (ed) 2005 The Origins of Himalayan Studies. London and New York, Routledge. (Chapter 9; Arnold, David "Hodgson, Hooker and the Himalayan Frontier, 1848-1850")
Brockway, L 1979. Science and colonial expansion: the role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens. American Ethnologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, Interdisciplinary Anthropology (Aug., 1979), pp. 449-465
Dilli R Dahal 1993. Anthropology of the Nepal Himalaya: A critical appraisal. In Charles Ramble & Matin Brauen (eds) 1990. Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalaya. Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich.
Drayton, Richard 2000. Nature's government: Science, imperial Britain, and the 'Improvement' of the World. Yale University Press.
For historical interest refer to:
Joseph Hooker's 1854 Himalayan Journals (Digitized by Google)
Francis Hamilton's 1819 Account of the Kingdom of Nepal (Digitized by Google)
Verrier Elwin  2004 The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin: An Autobiography. Oxford India Paperbacks. (Chapter 8, Passage to NEFA, and Chapter 9, Travels in the NEFA highlands)
A large number of other early writings and extraordinary film footage is available for viewing at http://www.digitalhimalaya.com.
Week 4 (13th Oct): Tourism, mountaineering and its local impact
This week we look at the place of the Himalaya in mountaineering literature and tourist imaginaries. We explore the socio-economic impact of tourism in a number of popular Himalayan tourist spots.
Lim, Francis Khek Gee 2007. Hotels as sites of power: tourism, status, and politics in Nepal Himalaya. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Vol. 13, no. 3 (2007), p. 721-738
Guneratne, Arjun 2001. Shaping the tourist's gaze: representing ethnic difference in a Nepali village. Journal, Royal Anthropological Institute v. 7, no. 3, 2001. pp. 527-543.
Sacareau, I (2007) Himalayan Hill Stations from the British Raj to Indian Tourism. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research. 31 Spring 2007: 30-45.
Bleie, Tone 2003. Pilgrim tourism in the central Himalayas: the case of Manakamana Temple in Gorkha, Nepal. Mountain research and development Vol. 23, no. 2 (2003), p. 177-184.
Folmar, Steven. 2003. Caste and community participation in cultural tourism in Nepal. Practicing anthropology Vol. 25, no. 2 (2003), p. 3-6
Frohlick, Susan E 2003. Negotiating the "global" within the global playscapes of Mount Everest. Negotiating boundaries in a globalizing world Vol. 40, no. 5 (2003), p. 525-542
Joshi, S. C. ; Pant, Pushpa. 1990. Environmental implications of the recent growth of tourism in Nainital, Kumaun Himalaya, U.P., India. Mountain Research and Development v. 10, no. 4, 1990. pp. 347-351.
Liechty, Mark 2005. Carnal Economies: The Commodification of Food and Sex in Kathmandu. Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 1-38,
Ortner S. 1999. Life and Death on Mt .Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering. Princeton University Press.
Stevens, Stanley. 1996. Claiming the High Ground: Sherpas, Subsitence and Environmental Change in the Highest Himalaya. Delhi: Motilal Bandarsidass Publishers Private Limited (Chapters 9, From Tibet Trading to the Tourist Trade; and 10, Tourism, Local Economy and the Environment)
(There are a vast number of mountaineering books on the Himalaya, any number of which you may want to dip into, but Tilman's Nepal Himalaya is a very good early example; also Robert MacFarlane's well written 2003 Mountain's of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (Granta) has a chapter on the Himalaya and his obsession with the mountaineer George Mallory)
Week 5 (20th Oct): Religion and the Himalaya 1: Buddhism
While focusing mainly on Buddhism, this week we will look at religion in the Himalayas, and the relationship of these practitioners with the state. We will also review the place of religion amongst the Tibetan diaspora, and its attraction to western pilgrims.
Adams, V 1998. Suffering the Winds of Lhasa: Politicized Bodies, Human Rights, Cultural Difference, and Humanism in Tibet. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 12(1): 74-102.
Aggarwal, Ravina 2001. At the Margins of Death: Ritual Space and the Politics of Location in an Indo-Himalayan Border Village. American Ethnologist Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 549-573.
Ellingson, T 1998. Arrow and Mirror: Interactive Consciousness, Ethnography, and the Tibetan State Oracle's Trance. Anthropology & Humanism. Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 51-76.
Childs G, 2004. Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal. Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press (particularly chapter 10)
Hausner, Sondra L. 2007 Wandering with Sadhus: Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Makley, Charlene E. 2003. Gendered boundaries in motion: Space and identity on the Sino-Tibetan frontier. American Ethnologist. Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 597-619.
Moran, Peter 2004. Buddhism Observed: Travelers, Exiles and Tibetan Dharma in Kathmandu. London and New York: Rotledge Curzon. (particularly chapters 5 & 6).
Mumford, S. R. 1990. Himalayan Dialogue: Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal. Kathmandu: Tiwari's Pilgrims Book House.
Ortner, Sherry. 1989. High Religion. Princeton University Press.
Samuel, Geoffery 1993. Civilised Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institute Press.
Wikan, Unni 1996. The Nun's Story: Reflections on an Age-Old, Postmodern Dilemma. American Anthropologist Vol. 98, No. 2, pp. 279-289.
Week 6 (27th Oct): Religion and the Himalaya 2: Shamanism
A large number of anthropologists have focused on "tribal" ethnography, shamanism and spirit possession. We will critically review some of this literature and watch some of the older film footage of shamanic practice available on http://www.digitalhimalaya.com as a focus for discussion on how anthropologically these practices have been understood in the Himalaya.
Desjarlais, Robert 1989. Healing Through Images: The Magical Flight and Healing Geography of Nepali Shamans. Ethos Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 289-307
Ortner, S.B. 1995. The case of the disappearing shamans, or no individualism, no relationalism. ETHOS Vol. 23, No. 3, Sep., 1995: 355-390
Peters, L 1978. Psychotherapy in Tamang Shamanism. Ethos. Volume 6. Issue 2. June 1978 (Pages 63-91)
Connor L & G Samuel (eds) 2001. Healing Powers and Modernity: Traditional Medicine, Shamanism, and Science in Asian Societies. Westport, Connecticut & London: Pergin & Garvey.
Desjarlais, R. 1992. Body and Emotion: The Aesthetics of Illness and Healing in the Nepal Himalayas. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gaenszle, M 1987. Journey to the Origin: A Root Metaphor in a Mewahang Rai Healing Ritual. In Allen, M ed. Anthropology of Nepal: People, Problems and Processes. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point.
Hitchcock, John T and Rex L Jones (eds)  1994. Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas. Delhi: Vikas Publishing House
Humphrey, Caroline & U. Onon 1996 Shamans and elders: experience, knowledge and power among the Daur Mongols. Oxford: Clarendon Press
Maskarinec G, 1995. The Rulings of the Night: An Ethnography of Nepalese Shaman Oral Texts. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Nicoletti, Martino 2004 Shamanic Solitudes: Ecstasy, Madness and Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas. Kathmandu: Vajra Books.
Peters, Larry (1998) Tamang Shamans. An Ethnopsychiatric Study of Ecstasy and Healing in Nepal. New Delhi: Nirala.
Sagant, P (1996) The Dozing Shaman: The Limbus of East Nepal, Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Walter, D. 2001. The medium of the message: shamanism as localised practice in the Nepal Himalayas. In The Archaeology of Shamanism (ed.) N. Price. London: Routledge.
Week 7 (3rd Nov): Mountain development and anthropology - conserving diversity
Mountain conservation has been a constant focus for development and state interventions in the Himalaya. This week we will review some of this literature and discuss some of the assumptions embedded in discourses of nature, and local people's relationship with the mountainous environments.
Litzinger, Ralph 2006. Contested Sovereignties and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund PoLAR: Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 66-87.
Gururani, Shubhra 1995. "The Forests Are Forever!" The Politics of Conservation and Use in Central Himalayas, India. Culture & Agriculture. Dec 1995, Vol. -, No. 53: 13-18
Snodgrass, Jeffery et al. 2008. Witch Hunts, Herbal Healing, and Discourses of Indigenous Ecodevelopment in North India: Theory and Method in the Anthropology of Environmentality. American Anthropologist Vol. 110, No. 3, pp. 299-312.
Bauer, K 2004. High Frontiers: Dolpo and the Changing World of Himalayan Pastoralists. New York: Columbia University Press. (Chapter 7, Visions of Dolpo: Conservation and Development p133-168).
Campbell, Ben 2005. Nature's Discontents in Nepal. Conservation and Society, Volume 3, No. 2, December 2005 Pages 323-353
Campbell, Ben 2007. Resisting the Enviromentalist State. In Gellner D (Ed) Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences. Delhi: Social Science Press. [Reprinted with Berghahn 2007].
Harper I & C Tarnowski, 2003. A Heterotopia of Resistance: Health, community forestry and challenges to state centralisation in Nepal. In Gellner D (Ed) Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences. Delhi: Social Science Press. [Reprinted with Berghahn 2007].
Rademacher, Anne M. 2008. Fluid City, Solid State: Urban Environmental Territory in a State of Emergency, Kathmandu. City & Society, Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 105-129.
Stevens, Stanley. 1996. Claiming the High Ground: Sherpas, Subsistence, and Environmental Change in the Highest Himalaya. Delhi: Motilal Bandarsidass Publishers Private Limited (Chapters 5, Sacred Forests and Fuel wood; 7, Subsistence Adaptation, and Environmental Change & 8, Local Resource Management: Decline and Persistence).
Week 8 (10th Nov): Staying healthy in the mountains - development and health
This week we will examine the question of health and staying healthy in the Himalaya, and look at health service delivery and development in Nepal. We will review the range of "healers" available to the ill, and questions of "integration" within medical pluralism in this diverse healing geography.
Adams V et al. 2005. The Challenge of Cross-Cultural Clinical Trials Research: Case Report from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 19, Issue 3, pp. 267-289
Janes, Craig. 1995. The Transformations of Tibetan Medicine. Medical Anthropology Quarterly Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 6-39.
Leigh-Pigg s, 1997. Acronyms and effacement: Traditional medical practitioners (TMP) in international health development. Social Science & Medicine Volume 41, Issue 1, July 1995, Pages 47-68
Adams, V. 1998. Doctors for Democracy: Health Professionals in the Nepal Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harper I, 2005. Interconnected and interinfected: DOTS and the stabilisation of the tuberculosis control programme in Nepal. In David Mosse and David Lewis (eds) The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International Development, London: Pluto. Pp 126-149.
Janes, Craig 2002. Buddhism, science, and market: the globalisation of Tibetan medicine. Anthropology & Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2002
Justice J, 1986. Policies, Plans, & People: Culture and Health Development in Nepal. University of California Press.
Kohrt, Brandon & Ian Harper 2008. Navigating Diagnoses: Understanding Mind-Body Relations, Mental Health, and Stigma in Nepal. Cult Med Psychiatry (2008) 32:462-491.
Pigg, S L 2001. Languages of Sex and AIDS in Nepal: Notes on the Social Production of Commensurability. Cultural Anthropology: 16(4):481-541.
Stone, L. (1986) 'Primary Health Care for Whom? Village Perspectives from Nepal'. Social Science and Medicine 22, 293-302.
Stone, Linda. 1988. Illness beliefs and feeding the dead in Hindu Nepal : an ethnographic analysis Lewiston, N.Y., USA : E. Mellen.
Week 9 (17th Nov): Politics and the Himalaya 1: "Tribal" ethnography and the politics of identity
Many of the peoples living throughout the Himalaya have been designated "tribal". Their isolation has always made these groups a problem for the state and national integration. We will compare India and Nepal's integration policies in relation to these remote populations, and trace the emergence and rise of disputes and ethnic politics. What role has anthropology played in the rise of the politicisation of ethnicity?
Childs, Geoff 2001. Demographic Dimensions of an Intervillage Land Dispute in Nubri, Nepal. American Anthropologist 103(4): 1096-1113.
Middleton, Townsend & Sara Shneiderman. 2008. Reservations, Federalism and the Politics of Recognition in Nepal. Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) may 10, 2008: 39-45.
Pigg, S.L. (1992) 'Inventing Social Categories Through Place: Social Representations and Development in Nepal.' Comparative Studies in Society and History 34: 3 491-513.
Bista, D. (1991) Fatalism and Development: Nepal's Struggle for Modernization. Calcutta: Orient Longman.
Burghart, R 1996. The conditions of listening. Delhi: Oxford University Press (Chapter 8: The formation of the nation state in Nepal; also found Journal of Asian Studies 44(1):101 -125)
Caplan, Lionel 1970 Land and Social Change in Eastern Nepal. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Childs, Geoff 2001. Demographic Dimensions of an Intervillage Land Dispute in Nubri, Nepal. American Anthropologist 103(4): 1096-1113.
Gellner, D. et al (1997) Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal Amsterdam: Harwood
Gellner D (ed) Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences. (Chapters in Section 2: The state and ethnic activism)
Hofer, A. (1979) The Caste Hierarchy and the State in Nepal: A Study of the Muluki Ain of 1854 Innsbruck: Universitatsverlag Wagner
Pfaff-Czarnecka, J. (1999) 'Debating the State of the Nation: Ethnicization of Politics in Nepal - A Position Paper'. In Pfaff-Czarnecka, J et al (1999) Ethnic Futures: The State and Identity Politics in Asia New Delhi: Sage pp 41-98
Week 10 (24th Nov): Politics and the Himalaya 2: Maoism and Nepal, a mountainous revolution?
In the last decade Nepal has witnessed a brutal internal conflict waged by the Maoists. We will look at the intersection of mountainous terrain, extreme poverty and the history of left wing politics in the region to attempt to understand the reasons for the emergence of this conflict. The fact that anthropologists did not see it coming also speaks to the history of the discipline, and its interests in Nepal, although this hiatus has recently been addressed. We will also view a documentary this week, and use it as a focus for the discussion.
Pettigrew, J. 2004. Living between the Maoists and the Army in rural Nepal. In Hutt, M (ed) Himalayan 'People's War': Nepal's Maoist Rebellion. London: Hurst & Company.
Shah, Saubhagya 2008. Revolution and Reaction in the Himalayas: Cultural resistance and the Maoist 'new' regime in western Nepal. American Ethnologist, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 481-499
Shneiderman, Sara, and Mark Turin 2004. The Path to Jan Sarkar in Dolakha District: Towards an Ethnography of the Maoist Movement. In Michael Hutt (ed) Himalaya People's War: Nepal's Maoist Rebellion., London: Christopher Hurst.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to:
* Realise the central position of the Himalayas in western thought and popular culture
* Critically engage with the epistemology of anthropological and other representations of the Himalaya.
* Have an understanding of the dominant religious and political practices in the region.
* Understand the role of development and international relations as an aspect of modernity in the region.
- At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to:
- Realise the central position of the Himalayas in western thought and popular culture
- Critically engage with the epistemology of anthropological and other representations of the Himalaya.
- Have an understanding of the dominant religious and political practices in the region.
- Understand the role of development and international relations as an aspect of modernity in the region.
de Sales, Anne 2000. The Kham Magar Country, Nepal: Between Ethnic Claims and Maoism. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 19:41-71.
Gellner D (ed) 2003. Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences. New Delhi: Social Science Press. (Introduction and chapters in Section three: The State and Maoist Insurgency)
Maharjan, P.N. 2000. The Maoists Insurgency and Crisis of Governability in Nepal. In Kumar, D. (ed) Domestic Conflict and Crisis of Governability in Nepal. CNAS: Kathmandu pp. 163-196.
Mikesell, S.L. 1993. 'The Paradoxical Support of Nepal's Left for Comrade Gonzalo'. Himal 6: 2 pp. 31-3.
Thapa D with B Sijapati (2003) A Kingdom Under Siege: Nepal's Maoist Insurgency, 1996 - 2003. Kathmandu: The Printhouse.
Pettigrew J, S Shneiderman & I Harper 2004. Relationships, Complicity and Representation: Conducting Research in Nepal during the Maoist Insurgency. Anthropology Today. Vol 20, No. 1: February 2004 pp20 -26.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Ian Harper
Tel: (0131 6)50 3816
|Course secretary||Miss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122