Centre for Himalayan Studies
UPR 299

The Centre for Himalayan Studies (Centre d'Etudes Himalayennes), formerly known as "Milieux, Sociétés et Cultures en Himalaya", is a CNRS-only (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique: National Centre for Scientific Research) research unit (Unité Propre de Recherche: UPR 299) which includes approximately thirty researchers and postgraduate students.

The unit boasts a resolutely pluridisciplinary team. In 1965, the first CNRS research unit devoted to the "study of Nepalese regions", founded by Jacques Millot, director at the time of the "Musée de l'Homme", already combined ethnology, biology and geography. In 1970, Corneille Jest, heading a new team, broadened the field for research to the Himalayas and its scope to geology and ecology. Agronomy joined the ranks within a Cooperative Research Group (GRECO), Himalaya Karakorum which lasted from 1976 to 1990. This led to UPR 299 being created in 1985 upon the initiative of Gérard Toffin, who ran it until 1994. Fernand Meyer took over from him from 1995 to 2004, and Joëlle Smadja from 2005 to 2012. Since 2013 the research unit has been run by a management team which first included Philippe Ramirez, Olivia Aubriot and Pascale Dollfus and then, since July 2015, Philippe Ramirez and Olivia Aubriot.

Scholars in this research unit intend to contribute to knowledge on societies in the Himalayan and Tibetan regions and on their relationship with the natural environment. Research is being conducted in ethnology, history, philology, agronomy and geography. The true riches of the geographical area, covered by our team of researchers, are its mosaic of diversified and complementary ecological environments, between tropical foothill regions and cold arid areas at high altitude, and its interface between Indian and Chinese cultures and the great diversity of the populations living there. This therefore provides a privileged laboratory for field observations of paradigmatic situations proper to providing thought of a more general nature on religions and politics, amongst other things, processes for the dissemination of ideas and techniques, dialectics between power centres and their margins, social movements based on identity claims, migratory processes, management and conservation of natural resources, "development" patterns and policies. Most common projects are centred around notions of territory, environmental issues and recent changes.

Our main research sites are in Nepal, India (Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh), the Peoples' Republic of China (Tibet Autonomous region, Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai).

Since the early 1960s, thanks to a policy of systematically procuring and collecting data in the Himalayas, a unique pluridisciplinary documentation centre has been set up: the Centre for Himalayan Studies library, which is part of UPR 299. With 15,000 references, it is the biggest Himalayan documentation centre in Europe.


UPR 299 Centre d'Etudes Himalayennes, CNRS
7 rue Guy Môquet
94800 Villejuif CEDEX

email: himalaya@vjf.cnrs.fr; phone: 01 49 58 37 36; fax: 01 49 58 37 38