News and Collaborations

(last updated 27 April, 2024)


(April 2024)

We are excited to announce that Digital Himalaya has joined the Archive Nepal family. Initiated by Dr. Alan Macfarlane and Dr. Mark Turin, the Digital Himalaya project was launched in 2000 as a means to preserve and make accessible ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Digital Himalaya team, and particularly to Dr. Mark Turin. For the past 24 years, Dr. Turin has passionately led the project, ensuring that Digital Himalaya remains a leading digital archive for the diverse collections from Nepal and the broader Himalayan region.

The resources from Digital Himalaya are now accessible on Archive Nepal’s platform. Looking ahead, the Archive Nepal team will take over the management and maintenance of the Digital Himalaya website to ensure its continued accessibility. We are also pleased to confirm that Dr. Turin will continue to lend his expertise as a member of our Advisory Group. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration with him on upcoming initiatives.

(January 2020)

Chowkidar is the journal of the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA). It has been published twice a year for the last forty years, under the same editor. Digital Himalaya is delighted to have been chosen be the online home of this important publication.

(February 2016)

Shezoed: Rigzhung Research Journal is a bi-annual publication of the Centre of History and Culture of the Institute of Language and Culture, Taktse, the Royal University of Bhutan College dedicated to Bhutanese studies (Buddhism, literaure, history, anthropology, arts, language). Digital Himalaya is delighted to have been asked to serve as the online home of this new publication.

(October 2015)

Hot Nepal is a Nepali-language monthly magazine devoted to contemporary issues such as lifestyle, culture, fashion, cars and cinema in Nepal and neighbouring countries. Digital Himalaya is supporting the publisher to provide the magazine with an online archive of back issues.

(January 2014)

The Journal of the International Association for Bon Research is a new yearly publication devoted to the study and promotion of research on the Tibetan Bön religion. Digital Himalaya is delighted to have been chosen be the journal's online home.

(October 2013)

The Raven is a Bhutanese monthly news and current affairs magazine. Digital Himalaya is delighted to have been asked to host and archive back issues of The Raven in PDF format.

(September 2013)

Published by the Dumi Kirat Rai Funsikim, Isilim is a biannual Dumi magazine which we now host with support from the editors.

(August 2013)

We have started hosting the back archive of Spotlight, an important news magazine from Nepal, with support from the editors.

(June 2013)

We are delighted to host a full back archive of segmented, indexed and fully searchable PDFs of the European Bulletin of Himalayan Research.

(February 2013)

Digital Himalaya is delighted to co-host the annual newsletter of the Doon Library and Research Centre.

(December 2012)

Digital Himalaya is featured in the journal American Anthropologist, in its Public Anthropology section.

(April 2012)

Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online host of Postal Himal, the Quarterly Bulletin of the Nepal and Tibet Study Circle.

(March 2012)

Carol and Tim Inskipp's reference collection of unpublished bird reports from Nepal has now been completely digitised and hosted online.

(December 2011)

Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online host of the Britain-Nepal Society's annual journal.

(August 2011)

Digital Himalaya is now colocated at Cambridge and Yale, two of the world's finest research universities.

(July 2011)

A descriptive catalogue of Brian Houghton Hodgson's unique collection of documents held at the British Library goes live.

(June 2011)

Maps from David Zurick and Julsun Pacheco's Illustrated Atlas of the Himalayas are freely downloadable from our site.

(February 2011)

The project features on the website of the BBC's new flagship series, The Human Planet.

(January 2011)

Digital Himalaya hosts Carter Holton's collection of two films from Gansu and Qinghai in China between 1930-1948.

(December 2010)

Project receives 5 star rating from the Asian Studies WWW Monitor, classified as an 'essential' online resource.

(October 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts The Bhutan Review. Published in Kathmandu by the Human Rights Organization of Bhutan, Digital Himalaya hosts 3 years of back issues of this important monthly publication.

(July 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts the Hidden Treasure of Bön about an international team of climbers and other experts set out to salvage a cache of Tibetan manuscripts from a cave in the highlands of Nepal’s Mustang District. To help them with the task of identifying the texts, they invited Geshe Gelek Jinpa, a scholar-monk of the Tibetan Bön religion.

(June 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts back issues of the Center for Constitutional Dialogue (CCD) Constitution Building e-Bulletin, in English and Nepali.

(June 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts a trailer of the forthcoming film I Will Find You set during Nepal’s ten-year civil war.

(May 2010)

We are happy to support Martin Chautari by cohosting their series of bilingual Policy Briefs on issues relating to the constitutional process in Nepal.

(April 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts back issues of Gochali, Tharu-language magazine which began publishing in Dang in 1974.

(April 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts back issues of Mulyankan, a forum for leftist and democratic debate.

(March 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts a digital version of the original 1983 experimental film about the life and work of Brian Houghton Hodgson made by Dr Tristram Riley-Smith.

(February 2010)

The project is very happy to host the trailer of a new film entitled Journey from Zanskar produced by Frederick Marx and narrated by Richard Gere.

(January 2010)

Digital Himalaya hosts the trailer of a new DigiBeta film entitled Angel of the Aboriginals directed by Biswajeet Bora and produced by Maya Kholie about the life and work of Dr Verrier Elwin.

(December 2009)

Digital Himalaya is supporting the work of the Carter Center by hosting its reports and statements, in both English and Nepali, since it became active in Nepal in 2009.

(November 2009)

Digital Himalaya hosts the trailer of a new film by Ben and Cosmo Campbell about a road which is being built to the Tibetan border to help relieve poverty in Nepal’s northern districts.

(November 2009)

A recent visit to the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) by the Prince and Princess of Bhutan on 27 October 2009 has helped highlight the vital collaborative research value of the Museum’s Himalayan collections, click here to read the article.

(October 2009)

After a summer of hard work by our web team, our website has been overhauled in line with the University of Cambridge house style and is compliant with standards such as XHTML.

(September 2009)

Digital Himalaya is preparing to move to DSpace. DSpace@Cambridge is the institutional repository of the University of Cambridge. The repository was established in 2003 to facilitate the deposit of digital content of a scholarly or heritage nature, enabling its sharing and preservation in a managed environment. Digital Himalaya is preparing to archive its assets to DSpace to ensure longevity and access over time. Our community page on DSpace will be located here.

(May 2009)
Digital Himalaya hosts trailers from Lunam Docs

Starting with the award-winning Punam and Journey of a Red Fridge, the Digital Himalaya website now hosts trailers of films made by Lunam Docs. Please click here to view the clips.

(February 2009)
Digital Himalaya hosts Pūrṇimā

Pūrṇimā, a quarterly journal devoted to Nepali history and Sanskrit studies, was started in 1964 by the Saṃśodhana-maṇḍala, Kathmandu. To this day, it continues to publish the findings of primary research. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online archive for this important journal, the back issues of which will be sequentially uploaded over the coming months. Please click here to view back issues of the journal.

(January 2009)
Songs from Chab mdo online

These songs were recorded in Skar ma Village, Chab mdo City, in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Skar ma Village is an agro-pastoralist community about 1,080 kilometers from Lhasa; all residents are Tibetan. The songs in this collection were recorded in 2007 by Bsod nams dung mtsho, and all were sung by Bsod nams 'byor ldan, a male who, at the time of recording, was in his sixties.

(December 2008)
Digital Himalaya hosts Ādarśa

Ādarśa is a supplement to Pūrṇimā, the journal of the Saṃśodhana-maṇḍala, and is published by Pundit Publications in Kathmandu, Nepal. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online archive for this important occasional journal in the English language on Sanskrit studies and Nepalese history. Please click here to view the two back issues of the journal.

(December 2008)
Digital Himalaya Film and Video Collections

Starting with the Shining Spirit Project and Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army, the Digital Himalaya website now hosts video shorts and film trailers. Please click here to visit our film and video portal.

(November 2008)
Shining Spirit Project

In 1998 Jamyang Yeshi, a talented singer and musician from the Amdo region of Tibet, fled and settled in Dharamsala, India. In early 2006, the Tara Café Project began work on the Shining Spirit recording and film project project which would bring the family together through their music. Digital Himalaya is happy to host the trailer for this forthcoming film. Please click here for more information.

(November 2008)
Minyak folktales online

Five folktales narrated in Minyak, a Qiangic language spoken in at least nine villages in Nyag rong County, were recorded by Bkra shes bzang po (b. 1989) in Xining City, Qinghai Province, on 3 November, 2008.

(November 2008)
Digital Himalaya moves data store to Cambridge University servers

As part of our move to integrate with the university-supported digital library system, the Digital Himalaya Project is moving its data stores to servers at the University of Cambridge. To begin, Digital Himalaya will use 20GB of server space in the Department of Social Anthropology for its film and PDF files.

(October 2008)
Digital Himalaya co-hosts Crisis Group reports

Digital Himalaya is delighted to co-host English and Nepali language reports by Crisis Group, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering over 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable reports.

(September 2008)
Digital Himalaya hosts the Jizong collection

Digital Himalaya is now hosting the Jizong collection of five stories narrated by Gyung 'brug and recorded in Xining City, Qinghai Province in July 2008.

(August 2008)
Digital Himalaya co-hosts the Himalaya Atlas of Aerial Panoramas

The Himalaya Atlas of Aerial Panoramas (Volume 1) contains over 700 computer generated panoramas that portray every square foot of the vast range between Arunachal Pradesh on the east and Uttar Pradesh on the west, including all of Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and portions of Tibet and the lowlands of India. Digital Himalaya is grateful to Dr. Bowen to have been granted the permission to co-host some of these unique images. Please click here to visit the Himalaya Atlas of Aerial Panoramas page.

(July 2008)
Digital Himalaya hosts the British Nepal Academic Council (BNAC)

Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online home for the British Nepal Academic Council. BNAC was established on 23 May 2000 at a large meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London of British academics and researchers interested in various aspects of Nepal.

(July 2008)
Journal of Newar Studies collection online

The Journal of Newar Studies (Newāh Vijñāna) is published by the International Nepal Bhasha Sewa Samiti and edited by Daya Ratna Shakya. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online home for this interesting journal. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable files.

(July 2008)
Namyi collection online

The 5,000 Namyi speak a Qiangic language, are classified as Tibetan, and mostly live in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, PR China. 11 audio clips have been uploaded and are hosted by Digital Himalaya.

(July 2008)
Mangghuer Folktale Literature collection online

Mangghuer, or Minhe Mangghuer, is spoken by about 25,000 people in Minhe Hui and Mangghuer (Tu) Autonomous County, Haidong Region, Qinghai Province, China. Published through the generosity of The Bridge Fund, the 23 folktales in this collection are written in Mangghuer and were re-recorded to improve sound quality.

(June 2008)
Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology journal online

Conceived, edited and published by Tribhuvan University's Central Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology series dates back to 1987. Ten volumes have been published to date, and Digital Himalaya is delighted to host the back issues of this important journal on social science in Nepal. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable files.

(May 2008)
Sharada literary journal online

Sharada is one of Nepal's most established and important literary magazines. It was established in 1935 by the publisher and printer Sharada Malla, but after around a decade of publication was suspended. In 2007, Sharada Malla's son, Shanta Malla, revived the journal and began a new series. Digital Himalaya is delighted to host the new edition of this important Nepali language publication, and we hope to scan the full set over time and host them on our website. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable files.

(April 2008)
International IDEA online

International IDEA is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. Its objective is to strengthen democratic institutions and processes. Digital Himalaya is delighted to co-host downloads in PDF format of IDEA's publications that relate to Nepal, and we look forward to expanding the collection. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable files.

(March 2008)
Shikshak Monthly online

Shikshak Monthly is a monthly Nepali-language journal for teachers and educators published by the Himal Association in Kathmandu. It was established in 2008 to support the skills development and build self-esteem among teachers in Nepal's government schools. Digital Himalaya is delighted to co-host this important new publication. Please click here to visit the page containing the downloadable files.

(March 2008)
Songs from Tha Rgyas online

These songs are recorded in Tha Rgyas Village, Rtsa Zhol Township, Mol Gro Gung Dkar County, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region. The songs were mostly sung by Drolkar and Lhaya, both of whom are in their 70s. The songs are mostly wedding party songs, which are sung to entertain guests at weddings. Digital Himalaya is delighted to host this unique collection of songs.

(February 2008)
Trustees of Digital Himalaya

We are delighted to announce that the Kosciuszko Trust and The Himalayan Bank have become trustees of the Digital Himalaya Project from February 2008. We are particularly grateful to Stefan Kosciuszko and to Ashoke SJB Rana for their generous pledge of ongoing support.

(January 2008)
Wutu Collection comes online

The Wutu ritual is an exorcism ritual held during winter by the Monguor (Tu) people of Gnyan thog Village (Tongren County, Huangnan Prefecture, Qinghai Province, China). These eighteen short films, shot by Zhu Yonzhong in 1996 and edited by Gerald Roche, show the ritual process step-by-step. Please click here to view the Wutu films.

(December 2007)
Digital Himalaya makes it to YouTube

The Digital Himalaya project has joined YouTube, a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. A sample of our video clips can be viewed by clicking here.

(December 2007)
Foundation of Endangered Languages newsletter online

The Foundation for Endangered Languages exists to support, enable and assist the documentation, protection and promotion of endangered languages, and Ogmios is the Foundation's newsletter. The Digital Himalaya project has helped to scan and digitise the back issues of this newsletter.

(November 2007)
Yari Aso songs online

These songs were recorded by Shawo Dondruv Dorji and Kalwang Jyid, members of the Tibetan Endangered Music Project. All songs were composed by Yari Aso, a Tibetan itinerant singer who lived approximately 100 years ago. He lived in the nomadic grassland areas where current-day Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces meet. Digital Himalaya is delighted to host this unique collection of songs.

(October 2007)
Himal Southasian online

Himal Southasian is published and distributed by The Southasia Trust, Lalitpur, Nepal. Edited and published by Kanak Mani Dixit, Himal Southasian is Southasia's first and only regional magazine. Stretching from Afghanistan to Burma, from Tibet to the Maldives, this region of more than 1.4 billion people shares great swathes of interlocking geography, culture and history. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online home for the scanned PDF back issues of this important collection. Please click here to visit the Himal Southasian page.

(October 2007)
Reng Patangko Thangmi songs online

With support from the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), the Nepal Thami Society (NTS) has produced a cassette of eight Thangmi songs. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online home of this important audio collection.

(September 2007)
Nepalese Linguistics online

Digital Himalaya is delighted to host Nepalese Linguistics, an annual journal which publishes articles, research reports and book reviews of works related to Himalayan linguistics with focus on the languages of Nepal. The editorial board was formed in 1980 following the establishment of the Linguistic Society of Nepal in 1979. The journal serves as a forum for students and scholars, both Nepalese and foreign, to publish material on their on-going research that have been previously presented and critically discussed at the Linguistic Society of Nepal conference held each year on the last week of November. Please click here to visit the Nepalese Linguistics page.

(August 2007)
Samaya weekly online

Samaya is a Friday weekly edited by Yubaraj Ghimire and published by Bhrukuti Publications Pvt. Ltd. While a few back issues of Samaya are hosted on various websites, unreliable server connections make downloading the PDF files both slow and difficult. The Digital Himalaya team have downloaded, recompressed and added metadata to the publically-available back issues of Samaya, and we offer them for free download on this page.

(July 2007)
Saptahik weekly online

Saptahik is a Friday weekly published by Kantipur Publications Pvt. Ltd. Many of the back issues are hosted on Kanitpur's own site, but unreliable server connections in Nepal make downloading the PDF files both slow and difficult. The Digital Himalaya team have downloaded, reassembled and compressed the publically-available back issues of Saptahik and we offer them for free download on this page.

(June 2007)
Read quarterly online

Read is a quarterly publication of the FinePrint Book Club of Kathmandu. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online archive for this new publication which can be viewed by clicking here.

(May 2007)
Mother Tongue Pipal Pustak archive online

Mother Tongue Pipal Pustak is a Nepal-based publications series which supports literacy by encouraging communities to write narratives in their own languages. The Digital Himalaya team have scanned the 48 volumes that have been published to date, and delighted to be the online archive for this important literary collection. Please visit the MTPP collection by clicking here.

(April 2007)
Laya songs online

Roy Cameron has recently provided Digital Himalaya with a set of recordings made between 1999 and 2000 among the yak herding community of Laya, Bhutan. These songs cover some of the most important religious and cultural events in the Laya calendar as well as songs that accompany the deceptively simple line and circle dances.

(April 2007)
Newsfront weekly online

Newsfront is a new weekly from the Samay team in Kathmandu, Nepal. Edited and published by Yubaraj Ghimire, the weekly started in January 2007 and is published every Monday. Digital Himalaya is delighted to be the online archive for this weekly. The journal can be viewed by clicking here.

(December 2006)
Census of Nepal 2001 online

Working with a CD produced by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Kathmandu, Nepal, Digital Himalaya team members have extracted the raw data from the 2001 Census of Nepal to create an interactive three-step tool which allows users to compare districts or Village Development Committees for seven different variables and then export the results in a range of widely-supported file formats. The census tool can be viewed by clicking here.

(December 2006)
Himalayan Journal of Sciences online

Digital Himalaya is happy to co-host the Himalayan Journal of Sciences, a peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary journal published twice yearly. The journal is dedicated to the promotion of scientific research, informed discourse, and enlightened stewardship of natural and cultural systems in the Himalayan region. The journal can be viewed by clicking here.

(November 2006)
Rare Books and Manuscripts and Himalayan Maps collections initiated

At Digital Himalaya, we have often been approached to help with the digitisation or dissemination of rare books and manuscripts which have become part of the public domain. We have opened a new collection offering these downloads in PDF format which can be viewed by clicking here. We have also recently added a collection of segments of 23 maps of the Himalayan region, compiled by Shangri-La Maps in Kathmandu. To view these maps, please click here.

(October 2006)
Midweek and Nepali Aawaz come online

Starting this month, two new journalistic collections have been added to our digital library: Midweek, from Gangtok, Sikkim, and Nepali Aawaz, an international fortnightly published in New York. To view these online journals, please click here.

(November 2005)
Bulletin of Tibetology available online

The Digital Himalaya Project team are delighted to announce that an agreement has been reached with the Director of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok, Sikkim, to host back issues of their important Bulletin of Tibetology. Copies of the journal were sent to the University of Virginia at Charlottesville where Benjamin Deitle of the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library took the lead in scanning and segmenting the articles into downloadable PDF files. To view the journal online, please click here.

(August 2005)
Maps of Nepal available online

Our newest Digital Himalaya team member, Ken Bauer, has used ArcMap to parse out maps of Nepal's 75 districts based on GIS layers provided by Kabindra Joshi in Kathmandu. For each district, separate layers (Rivers, Settlements, Elevation, and Roads) have been geoprocessed using standard GIS procedures. We are now able to offer PDF and GIF display formats for free download from this website.

(December 2004)
Digital Himalaya Project team to the Kingdom of Bhutan

As guests of the Royal Government of Bhutan, Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman presented papers at the 10th Himalayan Languages Symposium held at the Royal Banquet Hall, Thimphu, between December 1st and 3rd. The symposium was jointly organised by the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and the Dzongkha Development Authority within the Department of Education. During the symposium, Turin and Shneiderman had the good fortune to meet numerous high-ranking government officials and senior Bhutanese scholars who expressed an interest in viewing the unique collection of 16mm films taken by Frederick Williamson in Bhutan in the early 1930s. During their week-long stay in Bhutan, the Digital Himalaya Project team arranged four separate viewings of the digitised films in locations as diverse as the Centre for Bhutan Studies (CBS) and the National Library. Building on pre-existing collaboration with the research staff at the CBS, and with the blessing of His Excellency, the Minister of Labour, we are now discussing a suitable timetable for the return of digital master copies of this early footage of Bhutan to the relevant institutions and agencies in the Kingdom.

(June 2004)
Relaunch of Digital Himalaya Journals page

Last year we started the piecemeal digitisation of two important area studies journals, Kailash: Journal of Himalayan Studies and Contributions to Nepalese Studies. On the home page, we solicited comments on the utility of these PDF and HTML documents for scholars working in the field. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and consequently we have continued to scan and digitise more volumes of these journals, and are also proud to become the co-host of two major digital journals relating to Tibet and Bhutan respectively. To view and download copies of these four journals, please enter the journals portal page here.

(March 2004)
Switch to MPEG 4 compression for all QuickTime media files

Early in 2004, the Digital Himalaya project team decided to move to MPEG 4 as the compression standard for our multimedia clips. We continue to use the QuickTime architecture, but have moved away from Sorenson 3 as the compression codec of choice in favour of MPEG 4 which is the global multimedia standard, delivering professional-quality audio and video streams over a wide range of bandwidths. All of the new video clips which we are uploading are compressed in MPEG 4 only, and we are are recompressing our legacy files when time permits.

(November 2003)
MAAS and BUFVC to digitise Haimendorf collection

Building on established links between Digital Himalaya and the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC) and the Managing Agent and Advisory Service (MAAS), an agreement has been reached to professionally digitise 50 hours of the 16mm cine film taken by Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf throughout his anthropological career.

(September 2003)
Digital Himalaya Project team present at IATS conference

The four founding members of the Digital Himalaya Project attended the 10th Seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies (IATS) at Oxford, between September 6th and 12th, 2003. Organised by Dr Charles Ramble, this 10th seminar was the largest IATS gathering to date with a specific room earmarked for digital projects and online initiatives. Together with our partners at THDL, the Digital Himalaya team made presentations to conference goers throughout the week.

(July - August 2003)
Digital Himalaya Project team to Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)

Two members of the Digital Himalaya team traveled to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in July and August to initiate preliminary discussions regarding the return of digitised archival films.

(March - April 2003)
Digital Himalaya Project team lecture at Hampshire College and at Cornell

Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman, two of the founding members of the Digital Himalaya Project, went on a lecture tour to Hampshire College in Massachusetts, USA, to speak both about the project and the Maoist insurgency affecting Nepal. The events were sponsored by the Five College Lecture Fund, Smith College Kent Fund, Hampshire College Third World Studies Program, Hampshire College Global Migrations Program, Hampshire College School of Social Science, Amherst College Dept. of Anthropology, and the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies. The panels were scheduled for Friday, 4 April, and were attended by nearly 100 students and faculty of the Five Colleges. The program was entitled Visual Ethnography in Nepal: Three Perspectives on Representing the Other. As part of the Cornell-Ithaca Tibet Weeks between April 7 - 19, organised by Dr. David Patt of Cornell's East Asia Program (EAP), Mark Turin showed some of Williamson's little known films of Tibet which date to the 1930s. Tibet Weeks received an enthusiastic write-up in the Ithaca Times, a local newspaper. On Thursday, 10th April, Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman presented a slide show for the Cornell Nepal Association.

(December 2002 - January 2003)
Digital Himalaya Project team travel to Nepal and India

Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman, two of the founding members of the Digital Himalaya Project, traveled to Nepal and India to return a number of digitised films to the communities from which they originated. While many of the region in which these early films were shot are still unelectrified, by using a portable Panasonic DVD player (DVD-LA95) with a special 8-hour Lithium battery, the Digital Himalaya team was able to show the little known footage in remote mountain villages in both Nepal and India. Specific locations included Lubra, in Mustang, and the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok. While in Sikkim, Turin and Shneiderman consulted with Dr. Anna Balikci at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT) to advise on the digitisation of the Institute's considerable photographic collections. During the screening of the Lubra footage from 1962 to members of this tightly-knit community in Mustang, we realised the power of the technology and the strength of visual footage. Many of the villagers were deeply moved to see their loved ones (often deceased family members) on moving film in the privacy of their own homes. Click here to view two images of the film viewing in Lubra. Likewise in Sikkim, we were able to assemble a group of senior Kaji families whose relatives appear in Williamson's films from the 1930s, and the reactions were equally positive. Click here to see images of this historic event.

Digital Himalaya Project at Cornell University

As of the beginning of October, 2002, Mark Turin is based at Cornell University in the United States. While formally appointed to the Department of Anthropology at Cornell, Turin will spend much of his time consulting and working with a team of experts at CIDC (Cornell Institute for Digital Collections) based in the Kroch Library. Having secured federal funding through a joint application with THDL, Turin is now preparing to migrate many of the historical and visual data sets held by Digital Himalaya into the structures designed and implemented by David Germano's Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library team at the University of Virginia. On the weekend of October 25-26, 2002, Sara Shneiderman and Mark Turin gave a joint presentation on the Digital Himalaya Project at the New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS) held at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.

THDL receives three years of US Federal funding

The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library at the University of Virginia has received three years of funding through the US Department of Education. The grant received is called the Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) Program, the purpose of which is to support projects that will develop innovative techniques or programs using new electronic technologies to collect information from foreign sources. Mark Turin, Project Manager of Digital Himalaya, has been named as a major contributor to the project and is written in as a subcontract on the grant. For the coming academic year (2002-2003), Turin will be based at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he will split his time between the Department of Anthropology and the Cornell Institute for Digital Collections (CIDC) in the Kroch Library.

In August 2002, Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman traveled to Paris to advise Dr. Françoise Pommaret, an eminent scholar of Bhutan and Tibet, on the digitisation of her 45,000 slides. Dr. Pommaret trained in anthropology in Paris, and now holds a senior position in the CNRS. She has lived and worked in Bhutan for significant parts of the last twenty years, and is eager to preserve her unique slide collection in a digital form and to make it available to scholars, students, and most importantly the people of Bhutan. The Digital Himalaya team are consulting closely with Dr. Pommaret and liaising with THDL in Virginia to assess the best way to proceed.

Partnership with the Oxford Bon Project

The recently established Oxford Bon Project, conceived by Dr. Charles Ramble, will co-ordinate a five-year study of Bon, a living religion that Tibetans regard as the predecessor of Buddhism in their country. The Oxford Bon Project has been made possible thanks to generous funding from the Kalpa Group and core components of initial research include translations of key historical and rituals texts, completion of a catalogue of the Bon canon, and a monograph of Bon liturgical music. As of February 2002, Digital Himalaya has undertaken to advise Dr. Ramble and other contributing members of the project on technical issues such as: the digitisation of a video corpus related to Bon ritual, designing and implementing a search and retrieval system for scanned still photos and assisting with the acquisition and installation of digital imaging hardware.

The medical doctor Aglaja Stirn and educator Peter van Ham approached Digital Himalaya at the beginning of 2002 with the view to sharing their visual records of the Himalayan area. Aglaja and Peter have years of experience traveling in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Lahul, Ladakh and Spiti (to mention but a few of the places they have worked). They have co-authored a number of large format photographic books and are looking into ways of sharing their work with others in new ways made possible by digital technologies.

Collaborative partnerships begun with
University of Virginia and Cornell University, USA

In January 2002, Digital Himalaya project members traveled to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, to meet with David Germano, Director of the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library. Abbreviated as THDL, this project shares many goals with Digital Himalaya, such as making cultural materials from the Greater Himalayan region available online and returning such materials to the communities from which they originated. Known for their expertise in Tibetan Studies, the Virginia team have developed advanced tools for viewing Tibetan language materials online, and are also developing video cataloguing software that will allow users to switch between multiple language transcripts and add cataloguing information to film clips. Digital Himalaya will be involved in developing these technologies further, and will contribute content from Nepal and other Southern Himalayan regions such as Bhutan and Sikkim to the Digital Library, as well as academic expertise on these areas. We hope to develop this partnership further over the coming year, and are seeking joint funding possibilities.

We have also begun a partnership with Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, USA. The Cornell Institute for Digital Collections, The Kroch Library for Asian Studies, the Digital Library Research Group, and the Department of Anthropology, have all been supportive of establishing a stateside base for Digital Himalaya. The broad-ranging expertise at Cornell on technical aspects of digital libraries, along with internationally renowned Himalayan anthropology and Nepali language programs will contribute to Digital Himalaya's ongoing development, and the existing official links between Cornell and Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu will provide an institutional platform for Digital Himalaya to begin returning cultural materials to Nepal.

Visits to CNRS, Paris, and Oxford University

Mark Turin, Project Manager of Digital Himalaya, traveled to Paris in September 2001 to give a presentation to the research unit "Milieux, Societes et Cultures en Himalaya" of the Centre Nationale de Scientifique Research (CNRS). The talk was well attended by a number of scholars and students of scholars and students of anthropology and related disciplines, all united by a common interest in the Himalayan region. A number of individual scholars present expressed sincere interest in sharing their audiovisual materials within the Digital Himalaya forum.

In November, 2001, Mark Turin journeyed to Oxford University to meet with Dr Charles Ramble, lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies based at the Oriental Institute. Turin gave a presentation to scholars, students and representatives from The Aris Trust Centre for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies on the strategies Digital Himalaya is pursuing to digitise historic 16mm film footage. Based on the strength of this meeting, we are now building on shared interests and collaborating on the digitization of valuable ethnographic resources on Bon culture assembled by scholars at Oxford.

Past News

Digital Himalaya Website receives AnthroTech Site of the Month Award

Collected Sights Exhibition Opening at Cambridge on July 2, 2001

As part of an exhibition highlighting the photographic collections at the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Digital Himalaya has installed a searchable database containing 135 scanned images of Frederick Williamson's original photos from Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet. Exhibition visitors can search and browse through the photos and accompanying data. This database is a prototype for larger Digital Himalaya projects, and feedback from exhibition visitors will be incorporated into later versions of the database system.

Project Team attends pilot Broadband Lab workshop

At the end of May, the Digital Himalaya Project Team attended the first-ever Broadband Lab workshop, hosted by the Performing Arts Lab (PAL) at Bore Place in Kent. The week-long intensive work session gave Digital Himalaya a unique opportunity to collaborate with expert IT innovators and designers. Areas of discussion included designing interactive media for the future world of broadband Internet, fusion between web and DVD technologies, and designing multiple interfaces for multiple audiences. The Lab was organised in part by RGB Post, with whom Digital Himalaya also works in other areas.

Digital Himalaya receives additional funding

In early 2001, Digital Himalaya received two new grants from the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund and the Crowther-Beynon Fund both offered substantial new grant monies for the coming year.

Collaboration with RGB Post, London

Digital Himalaya has begun working in collaboration with RGB, a multimedia production firm in London. We are exploring methods for digitisation, encoding, and delivery under RGB's expert guidance, and hope to produce a preliminary DVD with them by the end of the year.