MARK TURIN Mountains of literature



It is a comfortable cliché that the Himalayan region is home to hundreds of endangered species and scores of undocumented languages. But it is not common knowledge that the field of Himalayan studies is home to a similarly diverse array of scholarly journals. This overview offers a few words on some of the major journals of Himalayan studies in the year that commemorates the 50th anniversary of one of the most celebrated Himalayan feats – Norgay and Hillary’s ascent of Everest.

Ancient Nepal (Prâcin Nepâl) is a large format yellow journal devoted to Himalayan prehistory and field archaeology and has been published by the Department of Archaeology in Kathmandu since October 1967. Many recent foreign archaeological expeditions to Nepal have published their initial findings in Ancient Nepal, and recent editions include accounts of work in Upper Mustang and Kohla (an old Gurung settlement). While the price is right, the distribution is not, and very few bookshops in Nepal or India carry the journal. Buy it when you see one, it is a rare find.

One of the longest running, most varied and impressively regular journals available in Nepal is Contributions to Nepalese Studies. The home of this journal, started in 1973, is the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan University. Foreign scholars as well as domestic academics are encouraged to write for Contributions, and all articles are peer reviewed. Truly multidisciplinary, the journal’s strengths these days include anthropology, sociology and linguistics. Articles may be in Nepali or English, and offprints are provided to writers whose papers are accepted.

Along with Ancient Nepal and Contributions, the longest running journal in the field is Kailash: Journal of Himalayan Studies, published on crisp Nepali paper by Ratna Pustak Bhandar since 1973. The journal was conceived to be a forum for scholars of a younger generation from both the East and the West to have their material published and critically discussed, and to this day Kailash continues to publish the findings of original research projects. Originally published four times a year, Kailash is these days rather infrequent, and is available only in Nepal. The first few editions have now been digitised and are available online free at

The Journal of the Nepal Research Centre (JNRC) has been published in Nepal by the German publisher Franz Steiner Verlag GmbH Wiesbaden since 1977, and contains scores of excellent articles on the cultures and heritage of Nepal. The original aim – a noble one – was to republish in English the most significant articles on Nepal written in German and Nepali which would otherwise go unnoticed by many scholars of the region. To this day, a new edition of the JNRC emerges every year or so, and can be picked up in Kathmandu or Europe.

The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (formerly the US Nepal Studies Association) started a bulletin in the winter of 1980, which matured into the Himalayan Research Bulletin (HRB). This journal, edited out of Portland, Oregon, is an interdisciplinary publication of scholarship relating to Nepal and the adjacent Himalayan areas. The HRB is an excellent way to stay in touch with conferences, events, new publications and even old friends (an updated address and contact list is included every few editions). While this biannual journal is available through subscription only, the dedicated website,, has information on the contents of past and future issues.

The European Bulletin of Himalayan Research (EBHR) was established in 1991 with the aim of providing an open forum for scholars in the humanities, natural and applied sciences specialising in Himalayan studies. This biannual journal has a quirky editorial arrangement: it is edited in strict rotation by teams from the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. While notes on conferences and book reviews are welcome, a particular strength of the EBHR is the longer monograph-style articles, which are heavily footnoted and well referenced. The journal is pocket-sized and orange, and the occasional volume can be found in Kathmandu bookshops.

While Studies in Nepali History and Society (SINHAS) was conceived only in 1996, the journal has already made an international name for itself as a discerning and high-quality publication. SINHAS aims to enhance understanding of cultural politics and social conditions in Nepal through a commitment to historical analysis, attention to Nepali scholarship and a willingness to explore new terrain. SINHAS is published in Kathmandu by Mandala Book Point and abstracts can be read online at

The Journal of Bhutanese Studies dates to 1999, when an editorial board at the Centre for Bhutan Studies in Thimpu realised the need for an interdisciplinary journal relating to Bhutanese issues. The biannual journal can be purchased by contacting the editors or read online free at the website

The Royal Nepal Academy does not have the best track record with continuity when it comes to journals. A few years ago the Journal of Nepalese Studies was launched, but this never got further than a few irregular volumes, and was quickly replaced by the Journal of Nepalese Literature, Art and Culture. This biannual journal can be bought from the sales counter of the academy in Kathmandu.

The Tibet Journal is a quarterly publication of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTBA) in Dharamsala, India. The journal’s focus is on scholarly and general interest articles on Tibetan culture and civilisation by Tibetans and non-Tibetans. This long-standing publication is edited by an international team of senior Tibet scholars, and many seminal articles have graced its pages. The Tibet Journal is available in many libraries and bookshops in Kathmandu, as well as directly from the publisher.

The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok, Sikkim, has recently relaunched its flagship publication, the Bulletin of Tibetology. First published in 1964, the journal is actively soliciting articles on Tibetan studies with a particular view to Sikkim and the surrounding areas. A website,, is under construction.

Tom Lehrer once sung of chemical elements: “these are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard, and there may be many others, but they haven’t been discovered”. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but a team at the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library ( is compiling one. Readers are encouraged to send information on any major Himalayan journals to

Mark Turin, Ithaca, USA