Review: Never lost in Himalayan space
Bickel, B; Gaenszle, M; eds 1999, Himalayan Space: Cultural Horizons and Practices. Volkerkundemuseum Zurish, Zurich, Switzerland.
Getting anthropologists and linguists to contribute articles for a shared volume can be as risky as asking genetically close but socially estranged cousins to have dinner together. Whilst both the academics and the cousins might have a great deal in common, something appears to have gone sour at an early stage in their relationship, and attempts at dialogue may be strained to say the least. Given these challenges, the achievement of Balthasar Bickel and Martin Gaenszle in editing Himalayan Space: Cultural Horizons and Practices is all the more impressive. In this well-conceived and beautifully designed collection, Bicket and Gaenszle have gathered together seven essays by accomplished scholars working with various Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups in Nepal. The essays range from the anthropologically linguistic to the linguistically anthropological, and the quality of the writing demonstrates that the contributors have a deep understanding of both the theoretical issues of their discipline and notable respect for the ethnic communities with which they work. Although each of the seven contributions deals with a different feature of one of the groups making up Nepal's ethnic mosaic, they all address "the question of how notions of space and landscape find expression in Himalayan cultural traditions, languages and practices".