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PIIRS Global Seminar in India 2017
Mussoorie, India (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Partner Institution/Organization Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: Princeton applicants only
Fact Sheet:
Dept Offering Program: PIIRS Program Type: Study Abroad (summer)
Language of Instruction: English
Program Description:

At Home (and Abroad) in the Indian Himalayas
The Holly and Henry Wendt, Class of 1955, Global Seminar
Isabelle Clark-Decès, Anthropology
The Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study, Landour (Mussoorie), India
June 10-July 22, 2017

The seminar will introduce students to the ecologically and culturally diverse region of the Himalayas known as Garhwal, in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It will explore the many ways that the different ethnic groups living there behave, believe, organize themselves and survive in their spectacular environments. In the past, many Himalayan people practiced transhumance and nomadism, but today, because of increasing out-migration, fewer and fewer live out their lives where they are born. Thus, the central questions of the seminar will be, how do the people of Garhwal identify and experience “locality,” “territory,” and “community?” What does it mean to be “at home” in this part of the Indian Himalayas? In answering these questions, we will problematize commonsensical definitions of “community” as flowing out of face-to-face encounters, and “locality” as a place with clear boundaries. We will see that “localities,” “territories,” and “communities” in the Himalayas (no matter how separated and isolated they may be) are inevitably constituted by a wider set of spatial and social relations that are defined by cosmological, ritual, socio-political, and economic processes that impinge on and organize these broader relations. It is these that we will study in this course.

The seminar will be based at the Hanifl Centre in Landour (Mussoorie) — an old British hill station located at 7,000 feet — which specializes in the environmental study of the Western Himalayas. The center’s research on animals, Ayurvedic medicinal herbs and natural resource management will enrich our understanding of place and homemaking in the mountains of Garhwal.

The seminar will feature daily classes in Hindi as well as guest lectures on history, folklore, music and literature by scholars from local universities and by writers, scholars and artists based in Mussoorie. Excursions will include: (1) a one-week trek to Har-ki Doon, a high mountain valley in westernmost Uttarakhand, which will include visits to mountain villages and remote high altitude temples; (2) various trips to cultural and educational institutions around Mussoorie, including a one-day visit to a Tibetan community in exile where we will learn about the educational work of the Tibetan Homes Foundation, and trips to the vibrant and bustling state capital, Dehradun, located about 25 miles below Mussoorie; and (3) a four-day home stay in the mountain town of Ranikhet, in Kumaon, just to the east of Garhwal, a town with spectacular mountain views and a distinctive culture.

NOTE: This seminar takes place in locations ranging in elevation from 7,000 to 11,000 feet.  Participants will be required to receive clearance from a University Health Services medical travel-health specialist.

Faculty Director
Isabelle Clark-Decès is a professor of anthropoplogy and the director of the Program in South Asian Studies. Her research interests are in South Asia, with a focus on the Tamils of South India and Sri Lanka. 

Seminar Manager
Jayne Bialkowski can be reached at or by calling 609-258-2635.

Distribution Requirements
The seminar fulfills the Social Analysis (SA) requirement, the requirements for the certificate in South Asian Studies and the departmental requirements for Anthropology (ANT).

The cost of the Global Seminar ranges from $6,500 -$8,000. 

The seminar is also generously supported by the Beth M. Siskind Family Fund.   


Dates / Deadlines:
This program is not currently accepting applications. Please consult the sponsoring department's website for application open dates.
This program is currently not accepting applications.