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Reading: Envisioning and Re-envisioning the Himalayas


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Teaching about Asia

Envisioning and Re-envisioning the Himalayas


James G. Lochtefeld

Carthage College
About James G.
James G. Lochtefeld is Professor of Religion and Director of the Asian Studies Program at Carthage College. His research examines the relationship between Hindu texts, tradition, and modern religious life. His early work focused on Hardwar, and his ongoing work analyzes how this and other pilgrimage sites are being affected by tourism promotion and other social changes.
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It began at a Christmas party, probably in 2002. I was describing my travels in the Himalayas to a geographer colleague, and he mentioned their importance in regulating world climate patterns. That led to further conversations in the following years, and we finally decided to propose an actual class. For 15 years the Carthage curriculum has had an interdisciplinary requirement, which since 2005 students have satisfied by taking a “Carthage Symposium,” a team-taught class involving faculty from different disciplines. Our class examined the cultural, natural, and human geography connected with three Hindu pilgrimage sites—two at 10,500 feet and one at nearly 12,000. The initial course plan included half a dozen hikes, usually around nine miles—partly to get students outdoors and give them firsthand cultural exposure, but also because some of these sites still lack road access. The class ran in summer 2006 and summer 2009, each time with a colleague who had never been to India, and comparing the two experiences produced some insights on preparing a “newbie” colleague that I hope will be helpful to others. I offer them below, each with a summarizing principle.
How to Cite: Lochtefeld, J.G., 2010. Envisioning and Re-envisioning the Himalayas. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 18(1), pp.75–79. DOI:
Published on 01 Oct 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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