Carroll Dunham

Carroll Dunham

Carroll Dunham, an anthropologist based in Asia for more than thirty years, has explored deeply the feminine divine in South Asian history and culture. Author of four books, she has written on the devadasi tradition and worked on the award-winning book Fallen Angelson the culture and history of sex workers in India. She has produced more than a dozen films for National Geographic, PBS, the BBC, and others on subjects ranging from Living Goddesses to polyandry, nomadism, and geology.

She has recently been involved with working with female immolations at a hospital burn unit and has delved extensively into the history of women’s relationship to fire and sacrifice in the Hindu world. On the board of the Nekorpa Foundation, Carroll has a keen interest in environmental conservation issues regarding pilgrimage and sacred spaces of South Asia. Traversing the frozen Zanskar river in winter, she has conducted ethnographic studies of charismatic female healers and traditional doctors of Ladakh.

A practitioner of yoga and ayurveda, committed to fostering income generation amongst marginalized women so they may support their families' health and education, Carroll has formulated ayurvedic products for The Body Shop and founded Wild Earth, a sustainable social enterprise producing handcrafted herbal products in the Himalayas. With a home in South India for more than twenty years, she has recently officiated at a huge Indian celebrity wedding at the Jodhpur Palace, and was historical consultant working on a script for the television miniseries The Harem, set in Akbar’s court with much drama in Rajasthan. Carroll has spoken at a gathering of more than 1 million dalits in South India. She is in her ninth year of study at the Shechen Buddhist monastery in Bodhgaya, India.

Hidden Himalayas


An intimate gaze into one of the last truly exotic places on earth.

Two young Americans take us to Humla, an ancient territory at the edge of Nepal where no Westerner has ever lived before. In breathtaking photographs and evocative prose, Thomas Kelly and Carroll Dunham capture Humla's limitless vistas and disclose intimate details of the lives of its extraordinary people: yak herders, caravan drivers, shamans, and brides who are shared among brothers.

Here is a land of eternally snow-capped mountains and sweeping valleys. A land as eerie and forbidding as the landscape of some distant moon, its people all but forgotten by the rest of the world. Their lives are a struggle — the alpine soil metes out sustenance grudgingly, and long winters threaten to banish the warmth of life forever. Yet these lives yield untold riches. As if the splendid isolation and sheer altitude of the hidden Himalayas bring them closer to the gods, the people of this land are possessed of a spirituality few Westerners will ever know.

Kelly's extraordinary photographs are accompanied by Dunham's evocative and lyrical account of life as the people of Humla conceive it: a cycle of fall, winter, spring, and summer. In a world made easy, accessible, and all too familiar by supersonic travel, television, and communication at the click of a mouse, here is an enlightening glimpse into the lives of a virtually untouched people.

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