Fragile Heritage Ecologies: Vernacular cultures and the at-risk landscapes of the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya mountain region

This project aims to develop a participatory and inclusive Fragile Heritage Framework for mapping the natural and cultural heritage of mountain communities in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayas region. The areas selected for study are important sites historically and culturally that are facing risk and loss due to the effects of climate change.

The Hindu-Kush-Himalaya (HKH) mountains stretch along northern Pakistan and are home to unique societies in terms of culture, heritage, biodiversity, environment and diverse terrain that is continuously transforming with the changing climate. They also hold the largest ice-cap outside the polar regions with >7000 glaciers mapped. These glaciers provide water for the entire country and serve as a lifeline for mountain communities providing irrigation water where rainfall in the valley floors can be as little as 200mm a year. They are also a major threat as Global Warming leads to their melting, not always in a steady retreat but creating lakes of meltwater dammed behind deposits the glaciers leave; dams that can suddenly give way leading to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) which have been estimated to pose a threat to up to 7 million people as they pour down the valleys. The communities settled in the HKH mountain region have a heritage of adapting to cultural and physical movement and this project aims to develops a Fragile Heritage Framework where local/host communities co-lead the process of understanding risk and loss, document the practice-based and oral heritages, and the vernacular spatial patterns (pattern language and architecture) in their landscape.

Project Details


Location: Pakistan, Southern Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Durham University, Laajverd Project partner(s): Baltistan Cultural Development Fund, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Funder(s): Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), UK, Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Funding received: £137,408 GBP Commencement Date: 09/2020 Project Status: Active
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