Mountains and Sacred Landscapes Conference @ The New School
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
Mountains and Sacred Landscapes Conference @ The New School

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).

View the conference page

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.


Book Launch w/ Jonathan Bach @ University Center Event Cafe (lower level)
Apr 26 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Please join us on Wednesday evening, April 26th, for a reception celebrating the publication of Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City, edited by Mary Ann O’Donnell, Winnie Wong, & Jonathan Bach (University of Chicago Press, 2017).

This multidisciplinary volume presents an account of China’s contemporary transformation via one of its most important yet overlooked cities: Shenzhen, located just north of Hong Kong. From an experimental site as the first of China’s special economic zones, Shenzhen is now a dominant city at the crossroads of the global economy, a UNESCO City of Design, and the hub of China’s emerging technology industries. A city of contradictions, it embodies the spatial and temporal intricacies of the contemporary urban experience. The book explores especially how urban villages and informal institutions enabled social transformation. Through cases of labor, architecture, gender, public health, politics, education, and more, this urban case study serves to explore critical problems for modern-day China and beyond.

The book just received prominent mention in the latest Economist magazine special feature on the Pearl River Delta.

Remarks by co-editor and author, Jonathan Bach, chair of the Global Studies Program (New School), Mark Frazier, Professor of Politics (New School), and special guest Na Fu, Luce Visiting Scholar in Urban Studies at Trinity College and head of the research department at the Shenzhen Center for Design.

Refreshments will be served and books will be available for purchase at a discount.

Sponsored by the interdisciplinary programs in Global Studies, Urban Studies, and Environmental Studies, the India China Institute, the department of Anthropology, and the Graduate Program in International Affairs.

China: End of the Reform Era w/ Carl Minzner @ Orozco Room (712), The New School
May 1 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

China billboard

China: End of the Reform Era

A Public Talk by Professor Carl Minzner

Monday, May 1st, 2017
4:00-6:00 pm
Orozco Room (712), 66 West 12th St, New York


Eventbrite - Colloquium on the Economies and Societies of India and China

Join ICI for an exciting talk by University of Fordham law professor Carl Minzner as he discusses the core factors that have characterized China’s ending reform era. Professor Minzner’s recent publications include “China After the Reform Era” and “The Rise and Fall of Chinese Legal Education”.

About the Talk:

China’s reform era is ending. Core factors that characterized it – political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth – are unraveling.  Since the early 1990s, Beijing’s leaders have set their face against fundamental political reform of China’s one-Party system.  On the surface, this has been a success.  The past three decades have seen political turmoil topple former Communist East bloc regimes, internal unrest overtake Mideast nations, and populist movements rise to challenge established Western democracies.  China, in contrast, has appeared a relative haven of stability and growth. But a closer look at China’s reform era reveals a different truth.  Over the past three decades a frozen political system has fueled both the rise of entrenched interests within the Communist Party itself, and the systematic underdevelopment of institutions of governance among state and society at large.  Economic cleavages have widened, social unrest worsened, and ideological polarization deepened.  Now, to address these looming problems, China’s leaders are progressively cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime’s stability in the reform era.  Uncertainty hangs in the air as a new future slouches towards Beijing to be born.

About the Speaker:

Carl Minzner is an expert in Chinese law and governance. He has written extensively on these topics in both academic journals and the popular press, including op-eds appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor. Prior to joining Fordham, he was an Associate Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition, he has served as Senior Counsel for the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, International Affairs Fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, and Yale-China Legal Education Fellow at the Xibei Institute of Politics and Law in Xi’an, China. He has also worked as an Associate at McCutchen & Doyle (Palo Alto, CA) and as a Law Clerk for Hon. Raymond Clevenger of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.


Eventbrite - Colloquium on the Economies and Societies of India and China
The Global Democracy Recession: Can it be Reversed? @ Johnson/Kaplan Lecture Hall (404)
May 3 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

The Global Democracy Recession: Can it be Reversed?


Wed, May 3, 2017 – 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Johnson/Kaplan Lecture Hall (#404), 66 West 12th St, NY


Eventbrite - Colloquium on the Economies and Societies of India and China

Three decades after the historic “third wave” of democratization, global democracy is in retreat and authoritarianism has made alarming gains. Can the momentum of global democratization be revived?

Carl Gershman is the president of the Washington DC-based National Endowment for Democracy, an institution with the mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through non-governmental efforts. The World Movement for Democracy, which was founded under his leadership in India in 1999, held its fifth global assembly in Kyiv in 2008. Prior to assuming the position with the Endowment, Mr. Gershman was Senior Counselor to the United States Representative to the United Nation. Mr. Gershman has lectured extensively and written articles and reviews on foreign policy issues for leading international publications, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His work in advancing democracy has been recognized worldwide and on behalf of NED, he has accepted awards from the governments of Poland, Romania, Korea, Lithuania and from numerous NGOs internationally. A frequent visitor to Ukraine, he most recently traveled there in April 2015. Born in New York City in 1943, he received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1965 and M.Ed. from Harvard University in 1968.

Opening and Welcome:

David Van Zandt
President of The New School


Jeffrey C. Goldfarb
Michael E. Gellert Professor
Department of Sociology, New School for Social Research

Sukhadeo Thorat
Indian Council of Social Science Research Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Sanjay Ruparelia
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Politics, New School for Social Research


Eventbrite - Colloquium on the Economies and Societies of India and China

India China: Rethinking Borders and Security – Book Launch @ Orozoco Room (#712), The New School
May 22 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

India China: Rethinking Borders and Security

Book launch with authors:
L.H.M. Ling, Adriana Abdenur, Payal Banerjee, Nimmi Kurian, Mahendra P. Lama, Li Bo

Monday, May 22, 4:00-6:oo pm
Orozco Room (712), 66 West 12th St

Remarks by:
Mary Watson, Executive Dean, NSPE

Tansen Sen, Professor, CUNY
Ashok Gurung, Senior Director, ICI


view book

University of Michigan Press (2016)

About the Book

Challenging the Westphalian view of international relations, which focuses on the sovereignty of states and the inevitable potential for conflict, the authors from the Borderlands Study Group reconceive borders as capillaries enabling the flow of material, cultural, and social benefits through local communities, nation-states, and entire regions. By emphasizing local agency and regional interdependencies, this metaphor reconfigures current narratives about the China India border and opens a new perspective on the long history of the Silk Roads, the modern BCIM Initiative, and dam construction along the Nu River in China and the Teesta River in India.

Together, the authors show that positive interaction among people on both sides of a border generates larger, cross-border communities, which can pressure for cooperation and development. India China offers the hope that people divided by arbitrary geo-political boundaries can circumvent race, gender, class, religion, and other social barriers, to form more inclusive institutions and forms of governance.

Ling and her collaborators have ambitions that are not merely explanatory but also transformative: they seek not merely to make sense of an existing conflict, but by diagnosing it in terms of blocked flows and interrupted balances, they seek to envision ways to resolve (or, better, to dis-solve) it. If the more typical IR explanatory social-scientific question would be ‘why is this India-China conflict as virulent as it is?,’ their question is instead ‘what does the present state of the conflict reveal about how to change things?’ The transformative question encompasses the explanatory question and presses it onto novel terrain; call the results ‘explanation-plus.’

—Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Editor, Configurations Series, University of Michigan Press and Professor, School of International Service, American University

About the Authors

L. H. M. Ling is Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York, USA.

Adriana Abdenur is a Fellow with the Igarapé Institute, in Rio de Janeiro, and a Productivity Scholar with the Brazilian National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq).


Payal Banerjee is an Associate Professor with the Department of Sociology at Smith College in Northampton, MA.

Nimmi Kurian is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in New Delhi, India, and India Representative, India China Institute, The New School, New York.

Mahendra P. Lama is a Professor in the School of International Studies at Jawarhalal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India.

Li Bo is a part-time consultant for environmental grant-making in China and chief editor of the Green Cover Book: Annual Review of China’s Environment, a Chinese publication. At the same time, he runs a small organic farm by Lake Huron in Canada.