IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Everest: Climbers’ Challenge or Commercial Venture?
Deaths on Mount Everest depicted in best-selling books and Hollywood films have circulated a widely-held critique of Everest as a commercial venture. From this point of view, heroic explorers and “hard men” climbing new routes were crowded out by fee-paying tourists who were not “real climbers.” Yet Everest was a commercial venture as early as the 1920s and the critique of its commercialization was well developed by 1970s, when a British newspaper headline posed the question in the title of this talk. This presentation examines the integral role that commercialization has played throughout the history of Chomolungma/Everest to highlight distinctive features in these more recent debates. The hyper-masculine heroism and nationalism of western climbers was called into question as more women and men climbed Everest and as Nepali high altitude workers (who are mostly ethnic Sherpas) have asserted more control over the mountain, even cancelling ascents in some years. Transnational debates about the commercialization of Everest have highlighted global disparities of risk and inequalities of wealth. Everest is not alone in raising such issues, but its singular position as the world’s highest mountain has amplified voices that all too often go unheard in global debates over the legacies of colonialism and the consequences of globalization.
This lecture is free and open to all.
Details about Professor Peter Hansen
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