Himal Southasian is Southasia’s first and only regional magazine of politics and culture. For over 30 years, Himal Southasian has challenged nationalist orthodoxies, and covered the region with imagination, rigour and irreverence, with contributions from some of the most interesting writers in the region. Neighbouring countries today can barely talk to one another, much less speak in a common voice. Himal strives to define, nurture, and amplify that voice. In an age of competing nationalisms and complex crises, Himal insists on the cross-border, pro-people nature of our possibilities and problems.
A digital magazine in its current incarnation, we publish a wide variety of articles, from sharp commentaries and longform reportage, to reviews and essays, focusing not on news but in-depth journalism. No subject is taboo for Himal, as long as it comes with good argument and sound style. Independent, non-nationalist, pan-regionalist – Himal tells Indians and Nepalis about Pakistanis, Bhutanese and Afghans; Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Burmese about Tibetans and Maldivians; and the rest of the world about this often-overlooked region.
The Himal editorial team is a small, tightly-knit group that does everything from brainstorming ideas and commissioning stories to working closely with writers, often over multiple rounds of editing and fact checking. With a large body of past coverage behind us, and armed with a comprehensive style guide, our editors take every piece through a rigorous process to ensure that our stories are meaningful to experts as well as the intellectually curious general reader.
Himal began as a Kathmandu-based cross-border magazine of the Himalaya in 1987. In 1996, the magazine expanded its scope to cover all of Southasia, from Afghanistan to Myanmar and Tibet to the Maldives. After functioning as a monthly publication of news, opinion and analysis for over 15 years, Himal took a quarterly turn in 2013. Three years later, in November 2016, it was forced to suspend publication after prolonged bureaucratic harassment by the Nepal government. Following a series of logistical and legal exercise, however, Himal has found itself a new home in Colombo, with publication recommencing in April 2018. In its new digital-only avatar, the magazine has added multimedia forms like podcast to expand its in-depth coverage of the region.
From the cover of January-February 2006 issue.
Throughout these years, Himal has maintained a lively online presence, all the way back from 1998, publishing a mix of content from the print as well as writings exclusively written for the web. Among the writers who have written for Himal include physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy, historians Ramachandra Guha, Thant Myint-U and Romila Thapar, novelist Manjushree Thapa, nuclear scientists Zia Mian and M V Ramana, journalist Afsan Chowdhury, political scientist Jayadeva Uyangoda, historian Tsering Shakya, among others.
Readers will note, and perhaps wonder why, Himal’s editorial stylebook favours ‘Southasia’ as one word. As a magazine seeking to restore some of the historical unity of our common living space – without wishing any violence on the existing nation states – we believe that the aloof geographical term ‘South Asia’ needs to be injected with a different sensibility. ‘Southasia’ does the trick for us, albeit the word is limited to English-language discourse. Whereas ‘South Asia’ is the way an outsider might see our region, ‘Southasia’ is how we need to see – as a vast penumbra of intermingling cultures and identities. South Asia is the region of sharply defined borders and nation states. Southasia, if you will, reflects more closely what we all are, beyond our certitudes as citizens of modern-day nation states.
This map of Southasia may seem upside down to some, but that is because we are programmed to think of north as top-of-page. This rotation is an attempt by the editors of Himal to reconceptualise regionalism in a way that the focus is on the people rather than the nation states. This requires nothing less than turning our minds downside-up.