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Conference in Kalimpong Arouses Great Interest

Mar 04, 2015

About 100 participants attended the conference "Transcultural Encounters in the Himalayan Borderlands: Kalimpong as a 'Contact Zone'" organised by research project D19, which is directed by Prof. Birgit Kellner and Dr. Markus Viehbeck. It was held in Kalimpong, India, from March 6-8 and aroused great interest and media coverage.

A number of articles on the conference were published in regional newspapers, such as Himalayan Mirror and Sikkim Observer. The keynote lecture was delivered by Prof. Tanka B. Subba, vice-chancellor of Sikkim University.

The conference focused on the hill station of Kalimpong which played a vital role as a center of convergence for the complex transcultural processes that affected the entire Eastern Himalayan region in the twentieth century. Originally an important link in the tea trade route connecting the Himalayas, it became the main transit hub for the exchange of Tibetan and European commodities in the wake of the British Younghusband invasion to Tibet in 1904.

Kalimpong thus became a salient space for manifold and complex cultural interactions. The study of such spaces in the colonial world has in recent years been enriched by new theoretical perspectives related to transcultural and postcolonial studies. The conference focuses on Kalimpong as a rich case study for stimulating dialogue between these different efforts, probing into various interconnected key areas, such as trade, religion, politics, media, scholarship, education, etc., using different methodological and disciplinary approaches.

The conference was organised by Dr. Markus Viehbeck from research project D19 "Kalimpong as a 'contact zone': encounters between Tibet and Western modernity in the early 20th century", which he coordinates together with Prof. Dr. Birgit Kellner.

For more information visit the conference website


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  • Front page article in the newspaper Himalayan Mirror

  • Group of conference speakers

  • Audience

  • Discussion during break

  • Keynote lecture by Prof. Subba