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Ancient Futures: Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing Worldby Helen Norberg Hodge
Synopses & Reviews
This gripping portrait of the rapidly evolving socioeconomic life of Ladakh - the Western Himalayan land known as Little Tibet - offers crucial lessons in sustainable development as its people attempt to balance growth and technology with cultural values. This account moves from the author's first visit in idyllic, nonindustrial Ladakh in 1974 to the present, showing the profound changes as the region was opened to foreign tourists, Western artifacts and technologies, and pressures for economic growth. These changes brought generational conflict, unemployment, inflation, environmental damage, and threats to the traditional way of life.
Appalled at the negative changes, the author helped establish the Ladakh Project (later renamed the International Society for Ecology and Culture) to seek sustainable solutions to preserve cultural values and environmental health, while facilitating the Ladakhis' hunger for modernization. This model undertaking effectively combines educational programs for all social levels with the design, demonstration, and promotion of appropriate technologies such as solar heating and small-scale hydro power.
This examination of how modernization changes the way people live and think challenges us to redefine our concepts of development and progress. More than anything else, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh stresses the need for the global community to find ways to carry traditional wisdom into the future.
A gripping portrait of the western Himalayan land sometimes known as Little Tibet,” Ancient Futures opens with author Helena Norberg-Hodges first visit in 1975 to idyllic, preindustrial Ladakh. She then tracks the profound changes that occurred as the region was opened to foreign tourists and Western goods and technologies, and offers a firsthand account of how relentless pressure for economic growth precipitated generational and religious conflict, unemployment, inflation, and environmental damage, threatening to unravel Ladakhs traditional way of life.
Energized by the fate of a people who had captured her heart, Norberg-Hodge helped establish the Ladakh Project (later renamed the International Society for Ecology and Culture) to seek sustainable solutions that preserve cultural integrity and environmental health while addressing the hunger for modernization. Since then, other Ladakh-based projects have proliferated, supporting renewable energy systems, local agricultural methods, and the spiritual foundations of Ladakhi culture.
The authors new afterword brings readers up-to-date on the work of these projects and on her own career over several decades as she traveled widely, observing similar impacts on other cultures. She challenges us to rethink our concepts of development” and progress,” stressing above all the need to carry ancient wisdom into our future.
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