Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

New York City, United States
From: 20.04.2017 to: 23.04.2017

The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), American University’s Center for Latin America and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announce an international conference on the theme of mountains and sacred landscapes, to be held at The New School in New York City on 20-23 April 2017. The conference will include the latest research on the intersections of religion, nature and culture and will also feature a special presentation from the India China Institute’s three-year research project on Sacred Landscapes and Sustainable Futures in the Himalaya.

Diverse mountain communities from the Himalaya to the Andes to the Appalachians face growing pressures linked to social and ecological changes. Melting glaciers, shifting agricultural patterns, conflicts over mining and resource extraction, and risks to livelihoods, the consequences of increasingly erratic global climate change, pose unknown future challenges to many sacred landscapes, including mountain communities and ecosystems and those beings, human and nonhuman alike, who rely on these habitats. Scholars have even suggested we have entered a fundamentally new geologic epoch called the Anthropocene.

The conference seeks to critically explore how the idea of sacred landscapes is entangled with these communities, with a particular interest in topics related to mountain landscapes. Some issues explored will be: major challenges and opportunities in the 21st century, religious conceptualizations of place and landscape, relationships between mountain spiritualities and peoples adapting to climate change, traditional ecological knowledge that can help address issues of social and ecological justice, the future of mountain and forest peoples and the fate of more than human worlds inhabiting these diverse landscapes. What kinds of meanings shape and are shaped by the effects of climate change, mass extinction, human population growth and ecological degradation of mountains, forests, rivers and other sacred landscapes? How do ritual activities linked to sacred landscapes respond to environmental challenges, or not? How do mountains—as highly biodiverse ecosystems, as critical sources of water, energy and materials, as repositories of tradition and as sacred beings—remain vital components in ongoing processes of religious change? How do understandings of the sacred manifest within and across different landscapes, such as deserts, rivers or forests?

Call for papers and proposals

Scholars from all disciplines, including environmental history and environmental studies, science studies, anthropology, philosophy, political science, religious studies and geography, are invited to submit proposals related to sacred landscapes.

Proposals may address any of the following themes:
· Challenges and opportunities for sacred landscapes in the twenty-first century
· Theoretical and/or religious conceptualizations of place, space and landscape
· Negotiation of community, climate change and mountain spirituality
· Traditional/local knowledge and its effects on social and ecological justice
· Ecosystem sustainability and the future of mountain and forest people
· Ecosystem destruction and the fate of the non-human community
· Mountains as diverse ecosystems and sites of religious negotiation
· Manifestations of the sacred in diverse landscapes
· Negotiating environmental challenge through ritual practices

The conference explicitly seeks to disrupt the conventional "three people reading papers" session. Innovative and unconventional proposals are sought from all fields for this interdisciplinary conference. Proposals for individual papers, entire sessions and alternative formats may be submitted as round-tables, interactive workshops, conversations or jam sessions.

Papers are due by 5 September 2016
Registration information to be announced

Read more 

Follow the conference on Twitter: #MTNSL2017

Photo: India China Institute

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