Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

Aims and Scopes

Environment, Livelihood and Culture in the Greater Himalayan Region

June 26 - July 2, 2016


1. Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan Minzu University, Kunming
2. Yale Himalaya Initiative
3. Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
4. Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Aims and Scopes

The Yale-YMU summer school is a five-day program that welcomes students and scholars to participate in an interdisciplinary exercise with a team of prominent scholars for developing critical approaches to understand the transregionality of environments, livelihoods, and cultures in the greater Himalayan region. In this program, the conceptual-geographical idea of “the greater Himalayan region” signifies the geological contiguity and the interconnectedness of ecological systems and human societies in the Central Himalayas, the highlands of Southeast Asia and Southwest China, and the extended Tibetan plateau. This emphasis on the multifaceted connectivity of human societies and geo-ecological systems in the region is meant for participants to engage dialogues and debates with historical-ethnographically specific arguments, current theoretical trends, and shifting conceptual paradigms of Himalayan studies in particular and area studies in general.

The thematically connected lectures and discussions of the program are contextualized in the question of how the combined impacts of globalization, climate change, and the transregional movements of humans, capital, technology and natural resources are engendering new environmental and social conditions of livelihoods, and prompting collective aspirations for transboundary governance of natural and human heritages.  

Under the rubrics of environment, livelihood and culture, the lectures, documentary film viewing and discussions of the summer school are clustered under five themes entitled (1) The Moving Himalayas: Zomia, Transregionality, and Planetary Ethics, (2) Trans-Himalayan Bio-cultural Diversities: Intersecting Ecology, Borderlands, and Heritages, (3) Revisiting Historical Gateways and Corridors: Empires, Pilgrims, and Commercial Flows, (4) “From Glaciers to Rivers: Transboundary Water, Climate Change and Environmental ethics, (5) Aporia of Development and Sustainable Environment: Modernity, Agency and Resilience. A reader will be compiled with relevant journal articles and book chapters as required and/or optional reading assignments. In addition to lectures and discussions, participants will also benefit from viewing films and videotaped lectures archived at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Himalaya Initiative.

A number of the selected contents of the lectures will be translated and published as a Reader (translation permission TBA) in Chinese reflecting the current scholarly trends and debates on a range of interrelated issues, such as the formation of Himalayan studies, borderlands, livelihood reconstruction, and environmental discourses. The intended trans-Himalayan study reader will be published with Minzu Press, one of the largest academic publishers in China specializing in ethnology, ethno-ecology, environmental studies, and Tibetan studies. 


[Daily hours: 8:15 – 16:00]

Day One: The Moving Himalayas: Zomia, Transregionality, and Planetary Ethics

Day Two: Trans-Himalayan Bio-cultural Diversities: Intersecting Ecology, Borderlands, and Heritages

Day Three:Revisiting Historical Gateways and Corridors: Empires, Pilgrims, and Commercial Flows

Day Four: From Glaciers to Rivers: Transboundary Water, Climate Change and Environmental ethics

Day Five: Aporia of Development and Sustainable Environment: Modernity, Agency and Resilience