Introduction: human ecology in the Himalaya

Knowledge of human adaptation in the Himalayas has developed more slowly than that for other world mountain systems. At the same time, the opening of the region to research has focused attention toward description in a “natural history” mode until quite recently. Where these studies have addressed issues of adaptation they have tended to do so more as a heuristic tool rather than in terms of contributing to the development of adaptive perspectives from a uniquely Himalayan vantage point. The contributions to this special issue suggest some of Himalayan cultural ecology's new themes as it more directly assumes a truly processual approach that incorporates the individual and domestic dimensions of adaptation within historical and social contexts.