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 American and Latino Studies (CLALS), and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) are excited to announce an international conference on Mountains and Sacred Landscapes at The New School in New York City from Thursday April 20th to Sunday April 23rd, 2017. The conference will include the latest research on the intersections or religion, nature and culture and will also feature special presentation from the India China Institute’s three-year research project on Sacred Landscapes and Sustainable Futures in the Himalaya (Sacred Himalaya Initiative).
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 of the issues we hope to explore include: major challenges and opportunities facing communities in the 21st century; religious conceptualizations of place and landscape; relationships between mountain spiritualities and peoples adapting to climate change; traditional ecological knowledge held by communities 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?
More details and registration are available on the conference website.