Leverhulme Lectures: The Himalaya, past, present and future

by Sally March

Archaeologist and anthropologist Professor Mark Aldenderfer will deliver three Leverhulme Lectures on 18 April, 25 April and 2 May.

Mark Aldenderfer is Dean and Professor at the University of California at Merced and is spending a year in Cambridge University as a Leverhulme Visting Professor. He is also affiliated to Pembroke, as a Visiting Scholar. His areas of specialization include the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan arc, the archaeology of foraging societies, Archaic/Pre-ceramic Andes, comparative analysis of high altitude cultural and biological adaptations, the archaeology of Buddhism, and the archaeology of religion.

On Monday 18 April Professor Aldenderfer will deliver a talk entitled The Himalaya, past, present and future: Mountain People and Climate Change. Although not as obvious, climate change has been as devastating to peoples living in and around the world’s high mountains as it has been for those on coasts and ocean islands. Aldenderfer, who has worked in the high mountains of the Andes and Himalayas for more than 30 years, describes the challenges faced by highlanders and lowlanders as they cope with the uncertainties of the future.

The second talk is on Monday 25 April, Himalayan Migrations: past and present. High mountains are at once forbidding and welcoming – they appear impenetrable but yet are surprisingly permeable. Reflecting on genetics, paleoclimatology, and anthropology, archaeologist Professor Aldenderfer will describe how people over the millennia have faced up to the challenges of moving through and around the High Himalayas.

Both talks will be held at in Pembroke Old Library, staring at 5:30pm and are free to attend. To book a place at the first talk, please click here. For the second lecture, click here.

The third talk in the series, All Compounded Things are Subject to Decay: an Archaeology of Tibetan Buddhism, will be held at 4:00pm on Monday 2 May in the Seminar Room of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. For most westerners, Buddhism is timeless, and Tibet remote and romantic. For the historical Buddha, his last words remind us of the impermanence of all things. For the archaeologist, however, the material expression of Buddhism on the Tibetan Plateau offers insights into the transformation and evolution of Buddhist thought as it encounters indigenous, pre-Buddhist conceptions of landscape and religion, borrowings of ritual from Central and East Asia, and the changing political fortunes of the emerging Tibetan empire. To book a ticket for this talk, please click here.

Photo: Professor Mark Aldenderfer (Copyright: University of California, Merced)