This report on the Shigar microcosm aimed at an improved knowledge base and an enhanced understanding and interpretation of development processes and transformations in high mountain oases. Shigar is a prime example for the quest of increasing our knowledge. Visitors to the region very often bypass Shigar on route to their quest for high peaks of the Karakoram which abound in the upper valley. Previous research efforts go back to colonial times when linguists and historians tried to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the culture and living conditions in the remote corners of the mountain belt. After independence scattered research projects were randomly executed. One of the more prominent efforts was the joint Pak-German Research Project “Culture Area Karakoram” in the early 1990s. During the multi-disciplinary programme sponsored by the German Research Council (DFG) Shigar became one of the target areas for a number of researchers. The nexus of research and implementation was emphasised on in the aftermath. Of great importance for regional development in itself became governmental and non-governmental activities aiming at improved infrastructure, education, health services, cultural heritage and economic enterprises. These activities have grown in recent years. In the framework of implementing development packages the need for background information and baseline surveys became ubiquitous. Planning without sound foundation is an awkward affair. Therefore all development agencies have devoted more efforts in recent years towards research and data gathering. Cooperation between academia and practice has become unavoidable and is fortunately growing.
This felt need was the driving force for the joint effort that was suggested by IUCN last year when a team from our research cell was invited to do a socio-economic survey of Shigar oasis. The Centre for Development Studies at the Freie Universitaet Berlin is part of the Geographic Sciences and in that capacity students are trained in executing fieldwork. Taking up the offer by IUCN we devoted and organised a two-semester course to prepare for fieldwork in Shigar and to evaluate the gathered data. The modest results of this undertaking are humbly presented herewith.
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