The Uncertain Future of Highland Asia: The Cultural, Environmental and Political Transformation of The Himalaya

Dr Alexander Davis1, Dr Ruth Gamble2, Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra3, Dr Georgina Drew4, Dr Mona Chettri5, Dr Stephen Morey6, Dr Lauren Gawne2, Dr James Leibold7

1 Lecturer in International Relations, University of Western Australia, 2 Lecturer, La Trobe University, 3 Professor of Urban Sociology, The University of Newcastle, 4 Senior Lecturer, University of Adelaide, 5 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Western Australia, 6 Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University, 7 Head Of Department Of Politics, Media And Philosophy, La Trobe University

The Himalaya lives politically as a minoritized borderland of India, China and Pakistan alongside small landlocked states of Bhutan and Nepal. A combination of GDP-led development, massive infrastructure projects enabling greater connectivity, state-to-state military tensions and growing nationalism is producing a profound cultural, political and environmental transformation of the region. To make matters worse, the region’s watershed, which provides water to roughly half of humanity, is experiencing global warming at twice global averages. This round table is an interdisciplinary and interactive discussion of the interlinked challenges facing the Himalaya with leading Australia-based scholars studying the region. It includes perspectives from political science, international relations, sociology, political geography, anthropology, linguistics and environmental history. The participants will examine the effects of climate change, urbanisation, militarisation, development, and the role of states and military tension in sustaining and producing critical threats to the region’s fragile environmental, cultural and political balance.

The purpose of the round table is partly to launch the recently formed Australian Himalaya Research Network, an interdisciplinary group of social sciences and humanities scholars across Australia, engaging with and studying the extreme challenges faced by the Himalayan region.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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