Lessons from Ladakh for a Globalizing World.
Paperback, 240 pages
30 b/w photos
A moving portrait of tradition and change in Ladakh, or “Little Tibet,” Ancient Futures is also a scathing critique of the global economy and a rallying call for economic localization.
When Helena Norberg-Hodge first visited Ladakh in 1975, she found a gentle people, a pristine environment, and a self-reliant economy. But then came a tidal wave of development. Over the last three decades, this remote Himalayan land has been increasingly exposed to outside markets and Western notions of “progress.” As a direct result, a whole range of problems—from polluted air and water to religious conflict to eating disorders—began to occur for the first time.
Yet this is far from a story of despair. Social and environmental breakdown, Norberg-Hodge argues, is not inevitable or evolutionary but the product of conscious political and economic decisions. In a new afterword, she writes of inspiring initiatives already under way that aim to restore Ladakh’s cultural integrity, including a 5,000-strong Women’s Alliance and village-level renewable energy projects. She also reports on the worldwide relocalization movement, which rejects the economics of exploitation and works to rebuild place-based cultures that strengthen community and our connection with nature. This classic account of a culture’s dismantling and renewal challenges us to redefine what a healthy economy means, and to find ways to carry ancient wisdom into our future.
“Some books provide insights into our problems; others offer guidelines for a different future. Ancient Futures does both, brilliantly. A true classic.” —Bill McKibben
“A sensitive, thought-provoking account.” —New York Review of Books
“This passionate book is a gift to us all . . . an experience-based manifesto for change.” —Alice Waters
Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture and a pioneer in the emerging localization movement. A co-founder of the International Forum on Globalization, she is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, or Alternative Nobel Prize, and the author of numerous books. She lives primarily in Australia and the United Kingdom.