Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Deborah Pellow


Cultural Anthropology, Heritage, Non-Governmental Organizations, Spatial Studies, Tourism, Urban Studies

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation discusses the construction of socio-spatial landscapes in Leh, Ladakh and elucidates the relationships between stakeholders in the tourism arena, conservation profession, regional and state government, and local civil society. It explains processes of urban regulation, juxtaposing the (re)production and representation of Ladakhi architectural heritage both during the conservation of historical buildings and during the construction of new tourist accommodations. Qualitative ethnographic research and spatial studies were conducted to investigate how competing discourses on Ladakhi heritage generated by state-based tourism industries and by non-governmental organizations are shaping building traditions, residence patterns, and livelihoods for resident Ladakhis. Leh's built environment is a product of numerous contestations and negotiations between residents, NGOs and the state in places I call heritage construction sites: architectural conservation projects and new guest-house construction projects, respectively. In this study, I pinpoint how Ladakhis identify with or contest the transformation of their urban landscape, answering the question "whose heritage is it?"


Open Access