A gripping portrait of the western Himalayan land sometimes known as Little Tibet,” Ancient Futures opens with author Helena Norberg-Hodge’s 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 Ladakh’s 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 author’s 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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"The celebration here of traditional Ladakhi life induces exhilaration but also sadness, as if some half-remembered paradise known in another life had now been lost. So evocative is it that I felt -- I'm not sure what -- homesickness?"
Peter Matthiessen, from the Introduction
"Though full of stories and photographs of the Ladakhi way of life. [Ancient Futures] is much more than a travelogue; it is . . . an ecologue .... The Western industrial 'monoculture' that has infected and endangers the rich ancient culture of Ladakhi is the one that is endangering us, its progenitors, as well. A book that must be heeded." Kirkpatrick Sale, The Nation
"A sensitive, thought-provoking account." New York Review off Books
"An indispensable book for people who are trying to protect rural life." Wendell Berry
"Everyone who cares about the future of this planet, about their children's future, and about the deterioration in the quality of life in our own society, should read [this book]." The Guardian (England)About the Author:
A linguist by training, Helena Norberg-Hodge was the first Westerner in modern times to master the Ladakhi language. For the last seventeen years, she has spent half of every year in Ladakhi, working with the Ladakhi people to protect their culture and environment from the effects of rapid modernization. For this work, Ms. Norberg-Hodge was awarded the 1986 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is currently Director of the Ladakhi Project, which she founded in 1978, and its parent organization, the International Society for Ecology. and Culture.
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