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Tom Corcoran

Biocultural & Cultural Heritage Conservationist

National Geographic Global Explorer

Fading Cultures Transect

The fading cultures transect is an ethnographic journey through traditional mountain communities of Northern Pakistan. We document the local arts and artisanal crafts and these unique ways of life through local languages, cultures and heritage stories in these rapidly changing environments. Pakistan has opened its doors to both national and international visitors in recent years. The Karakoram and the Hindu Kush's remote and diverse Northern mountainous regions offer a unique glimpse into the past. Through tourism, improved access and other development initiatives, the steady temporality of life for many traditional and once isolated communities has been changing; some welcome positive shifts, and some perhaps not so positive. The global pandemic has also undoubtedly impacted many new and old elements of people's lives, from the elderly last language speakers to younger generations now dependent on tourism and the need to keep their culture's attraction alive. 


How have these unique cultural and linguistic communities been impacted? What has been threatened, and what has been lost? What elements of their culture and traditional way of life are thriving?  What can we learn, and what innovations have been developed to meet the changes? 


This transect takes us through twelve endangered language communities from Kohistan to Burushaski, speaking Hunza through to the Wakhi speaking communities bordering China and Afghanistan. We then traverse westward to Chitral and through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Peshawar City. We engage with language, culture, heritage, crafts, arts, music and traditional ways of life. As part of the FCT team, Fayyaz Ahmad, Pakistan's last Roghan artist, provides a rich interpretation of fading cultures through his own story as the last of the ancient Roghan Artists. Fayyaz shares his art and provides his interpretation of life in these remote communities through the art of Roghan.  

The transect is a journey of over 2,000 Km of mountain roads, meandering trails and well-worn tracks. We traverse some of the worlds highest mountain passes, venturing into Pakistan's most remote valleys. 

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