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Chapter Summary

Contemporary social scientific and humanities scholarship on Ladakh has its roots in colonial exploration and missionary activity in the nineteenth century. The flow of Tibetan refugees into India and Nepal in the wake of China?s occupation of Tibet and the escape of the Dalai Lama in 1959 reinforced popular and academic interest in Tibetan society and culture, particularly Buddhism. Much like the discipline of anthropology as a whole, the study of Ladakhi society and culture has roots in the expansion of Western political and missionary interests in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Writers such as Helena Norberg-Hodge adopted a selective perspective on Ladakhi society to create a powerful narrative about change. Many scholars have made efforts to address the shortcomings that they themselves identified in their earlier critiques of the regional scholarship.

Keywords: Buddhism; colonial exploration; Ladakhi society; Tibetan refugees



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