1st Edition

Rendering Houses in Ladakh

By Sophie Day Copyright 2023
    224 Pages 60 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sophie Day explores the houses that are imagined, built, repurposed, and dismantled among different communities in Ladakh, drawing attention to the ways in which houses are like and unlike people.A handful of in-depth ‘house portraits’ are selected for the insight they provide into major regional developments, based on the author’s extended engagement since 1981. Most of these houses are Buddhist and associated with the town of Leh. Drawing on both image and text, collaborative methods for assembling material show the intricate relationships between people and places over the life course. Innovative methods for recording and archiving such as ‘storyboards’ are developed to frame different views of the house. This approach raises analytical questions about the composition of life within and beyond storyboards, offering new ways to understand a region that intrigues specialists and non-specialists alike.

    1 Ladakh’s Houses

    2 Ritual Houses

    3 "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change"

    4 Once the Wealthiest Tent in Kharnak

    5 Making a photobook with Deen Khan

    6 An Empty House?

    7 Nyarma: the nuns’ house

    8 Going it Alone: Angmo’s Leh House

    9 The Skarra chorten (stūpa)




    Sophie Day is Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths University, UK.

    "In this luminous and insightful work – the product of many decades of research – Sophie Day explores the lives and deaths of houses, and their persons, in Ladakh to reveal their domestic, historical and political significance. The past, present and future of these houses is beautifully and intricately rendered." - Janet Carsten, Emeritus Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK

    "In the last five decades, change has been a constant in Ladakh. Sophie Day’s work takes us through the shifts that have taken place there through physical renderings of the home, the importance of family and values, traditional knowledge systems and material culture. This book is important for anyone with an interest in the contemporary history of Ladakh and the social and cultural forces in play there. Day’s narrative as well as the use of visuals give us a better understanding of that." - Monisha Ahmed, Co-founder and Executive Director, Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation, India

    "Like a house that morphs and ages over time, shaping and shaped by its inhabitants, this book is the product of long term relationships between anthropologist Sophie Day and the Ladakhi families with whom she has been involved for over four decades. History, memory, narrative and images evolve from these encounters, producing unique, detailed and, at times, intimate insights into why houses are important social beings and what form this importance has taken in Ladakh." - Emma Tarlo, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Goldsmiths (University of London)

    "Based on fieldwork and relationships spanning four decades, Sophie Day’s sensitive and wide-ranging ethnography of the lives of houses and their inhabitants in Ladakh is among the richest monographs on the region in the English language. A major contribution to Himalayan and Tibetan studies, it is packed with insights and reflects Day’s deep affinity for the region and its people. Engaging with classical and current debates on personhood and belonging, Rendering Houses in Ladakh will be of interest to a broad readership." - Martijn van Beek, Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark