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Nepal and Himalayan Studies Conference

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The third Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies Conference was held at Yale University on March 14-16, 2014. Exploring the ecological, social and political challenges facing a region that divides and connects the two great Asian superpowers, China and India, the conference attracted more than 200 people from 15 countries.

The meeting was convened by Dr. Mark Turin, Associate Research Scientist at Yale’s South Asian Studies Council and Program Director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative. The conference was generously sponsored by the Yale Himalaya Initiative, South Asia Studies Council, Council on East Asian Studies, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the Macmillan Center.

nepalFor three days, research scholars, health practitioners, activists and artists from universities and organizations around the world participated in 33 panels and six roundtables on topics from conservation policy and migration studies to religious movements and regional art history. The central theme of the conference was “Communities,” with an emphasis on dialogue and engagement with regional partnerships, and furthering practices that support Himalayan studies as an emerging field of interdisciplinary scholarship.

Environmental issues were especially prominent through the discussions, as scholars working in the region have recognized that issues of environmental change – including adaption to emerging challenges and ecosystem services – are central to sustaining livelihoods across the Himalayas. In addition, a number of panels focused on professional development issues. One panel dealt with pedagogy, specifically the challenges of teaching about the Himalayas and Tibet in the North American classroom. Another session, structured as a roundtable, brought together editors from all periods of the Association’s flagship and open-access journal HIMALAYA to discuss the journal’s development and explore how it should move forward to reflect the changing readership.

nepalFacilitated by external funding, from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation in particular, a large number of students and scholars from Bhutan, China, India and Nepal were able to attend the conference. For the course of the weekend, Dzongkha, Hindi, Nepali and Tibetan could be heard throughout the corridors and classrooms of Luce Hall.

The whole conference was blogged live on Twitter (using the hashtag #HSC3) with colleagues from across the Himalayan region reading, responding and asking questions about panels and engaging in discussions in live time through social media. Many students and faculty from Yale presented on panels and participated in roundtables, and 25 more attended as delegates – including some undergraduates.

For more information about the conference, visit http://hsc2014.commons.yale.edu.