Day 3: 24 July

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Social Science Baha organised The Fourth Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya in partnership with Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, Britain-Nepal Academic CouncilCentre for Himalayan Studies-CNRS.

Day 3: 24 July (Friday)
SESSION 9: 9 – 10:30am
Panel A9
Politics and the Local
Panel B9
Literature, Politics and Boundaries
Chair: Dambar Chemjong 
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Chair: Ramawatar Yadav 
Former Vice-Chancellor, Purbanchal University
Raktim Patar
Assistant Professor of History, Gargaon College, Sivasagar, Assam
Ajapa Sharma
M.A Modern History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Tashi Tshering Ghale ‘Dolpo’
Social Science Baha
Mallika Shakya
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi
Sanjaya Mahato
PhD Fellow at Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR), Polish Academic of Sciences, Warsaw
Catherine Warner
PhD, South Asian History, University of Washington, Seattle

BREAK: 10:30am – 11:00 pm

SESSION 10: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm 
Panel A10
Home and Away
Panel B10
Modernity and Change in Nepali Society
Chair: Bandita Sijapati 
Research Director,
Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility, Social Science Baha
Chair: Seira Tamang 
Director of Research, Martin Chautari
Balram Uprety
Assistant Professor in English, St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling
Gita Neupane
PhD candidate in Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii
Laxmi Dhungel
PhD candidate, Kathmandu University School of Arts
Shreemanjari Tamrakar
MPhil Student in Sociology, Tribhuvan University
Tracy Ghale
Research Associate, Social Science Baha
Sanjay Sharma
Independent Researcher
Andrew Nelson
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of North Texas
Sabin Ninglekhu
Member, Editorial Board, New Angle: NepalJournal of Social Science and Public Policy

LUNCH BREAK: 12:30pm – 1:30 pm  

SESSION 11: 1:30 – 2:30 pm 
Panel A11
Health and the Mind
Panel B11
Reflections from the Eastern Tarai
Chair: Anne Mocko 
Assistant Professor, Concordia College
Chair: Pramod Bhatta 
Director of Research, Martin Chautari
Nawaraj Upadhaya
Emerald Project Coordinator,
Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal
Miranda Weinberg
PhD Candidate, Educational Linguistics and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Ashley K. Hagaman
PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Global Health, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, MPH
Uden Maharjan
Thammasat University, Thailand
Madhu Giri
PhD in Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Becoming a Musahar and Making Space: Storytelling as an Art of Telling History in Eastern Tarai
BREAK: 2:30 – 3:00pm
SESSION 12: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Panel B12
Society in the High Himalaya 

Chair: Rajendra Pradhan 
Member, Social Science Baha, and Dean, Nepa School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Katsuo Nawa
Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo
Samuele Poletti
PhD candidate, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
Sonam Lama
Returning expert, Nepal Transportation and Development Research Centre, Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Kathmandu
BREAK: 5 – 5:30pm  
Speakers: Shamik Mishra and Deepak Aryal
Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya
Moderator: Pratyoush Onta
This presentation was partially supported by The Asia Foundation


Village Administration among the Tiwa: A Discourse on the Loroship
Raktim Patar, Assistant Professor, History, Gargaon College, Sivasagar, Assam

Abstract: The Tiwa are one of the many aboriginal tribal groups in North-East India. Settled in Morigaon, Nagaon, Kamrup and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam and Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya, they have long been referred to as “Lalung” by other neighbouring groups (Khasi-Jaintia, Karbi) and in colonial records. The people in question however refer to themselves as Tiwa. They are divided into two cultural and social divisions- those settled in the plains, speak Assamese, follow a patrilineal descent system and bear Assamese patronyms, and those residing in the hills, speaks a Tibeto-Burmese language of the Bodo-Garo group, are primarily matrilineal and divided into clearly identified clans from which they trace their descent. Thus the Tiwa follow a bilineal descent system or more specifically an ambilineal descent. The hill Tiwa are still a follower of traditional way of life. It is reflected in their socio-cultural habits and customs. The hill Tiwa has a distinct set of system to manage the affairs of their villages. Their village administration is headed by the Loro who is not only the spiritual head but also the main functionary of the village law and order. He also acts as the primary authority in handling any socio-economic disputes. However the Loro is not the sole or absolute authority in a traditional Tiwa village. He has to act with the cooperation of the village council known as Pisai. In a Tiwa village the youth leaders also plays a significant role in every aspect of the society. The youth body Panthai khel is headed by Changdoloi and he has a number of officials that discharges various duties in the affairs of the villages. The Panthai Khel is the managers of the village youth dormitory known as Chamadi. In short the Tiwa village administration is a mechanism of social and political control and institution of cultural continuity. This paper is an attempt to study the village administration among Tiwa with a special discussion on the Loroship as he is the centre of power both in social and spiritual affairs. It will highlight the genesis of the Tiwa tribe and the emergence of various parts of the village administration such as the Panthai khel and the Pisai. It will also look into the significance of the Chamadi system in the traditional village administration among the Tiwa of North East India.

Key words: Ambilineal, Patronyms, Loro, Bilineal, Changdoloi, Panthai, Khel, Pisai, Chamadi.

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The Contested Local Elections
Tashi Tshering Ghale ‘Dolpo’, A. Political Science, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur

Abstract: This paper attempts to expand the debate around democratic exclusion of minority communities, such as the Dolpo, by examining how and why or in what ways communities anticipate and resist the democratization process in the context of the impending local elections. Nationalized forms of governance are often perceived as directly undermining Dolpo traditional practices and culture, while increasing social and economic exclusion. While electoral democracy is widely believed to promote inclusiveness, some scholars, e.g. Dahl (1998), Lawoti (2008) and Collier (2009) have countered that models of electoral democracy do not necessarily benefit ethnic people, as they might invite ethnic conflicts or could exclude several communities. Based on both published sources and the ongoing research, I will analyze the different forms and impacts that local elections might have at local level in the district of Dolpo, drawing attention to real differences between nationalized forms of governance and local and indigenous forms of governance.

This paper analyses the tensions and contestations between nationalized electoral processes and customary Dolpo laws such as ‘Yul-thrim’ and ‘Gā-pu’. This paper contextualizes the relationships between these systems of governance through ethnographic research conducted in two VDCs-Chharka and Mukot. By doing so, this paper attempts to not only expand debates around indigenous autonomy but also links them to larger national debates about the terms and conditions of ethnic federalism. Further, Dolpo is an ethnicity recognized by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) and the National Federation Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN)-positioning Dolpo: the locality and its political processes within the wider ethnic and identity politics in Nepal.

This study will historicize both the conflicts and development of local elections in Dolpo community-in the context of Maoist insurgency, the janajati movement and contemporary local and national partisan politics. In this detailed context, it will be easier to analyze how the transformation of Dolpo’s political relations with the central state have changed since the 1950s due to national as well as local causes, and the challenges to legitimacy that the traditional local governance system of Dolpo has faced over time. Because plans for the local elections have yet to be established, members of the Dolpo community are imagining things very differently. This paper will describe the ways that the different people of Dolpo imagine and position themselves in terms of both past and future elections.

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Social Costs and Benefits of Party Switching in Nepal
Sanjaya Mahato, PhD Fellow, Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR), Polish Academic of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland 

Abstract: Party switching, or changing political party affiliation, is a surprisingly widespread and persistent phenomenon among political leaders in all democracies. Why would political leaders risk careers, prestige, and chances for reelection for uncertain payoffs, thereby giving voters the impression of legislators lacking accountability and representation? Existing research argues that political leaders’ decisions are individually rational vis-à-vis electoral, career, or policy ambitions, and that switching declines as democracy matures. The restoration of democracy in 1990 however established the democratic practice; the Nepalese democracy never consolidated and became mature over the past two and half decades. The emergence of strong sense of ethnicity and regionality among the political leaders and relative absence of political space for marginalized communities in the major political parties namely NC and UML are often reported as major causes for party partition and party switching in Nepal. I also found switching electoral system from first past the post to mixed model provided a significant space to emerge ethnic and regional parties thereby intensifying a party switching. I argue that identity ties as well as issues of representation have substantial effects on party leaders’ behavior thereby overshadowing individual material incentives. The emergence of new parties and higher frequency of party switching however increased a political participation but weakened the strong party system making higher voter’s volatility rate.

For the paper I have used the election data of the 3 consecutive parliamentary elections 1991, 1994 and 1999 and a couple of the Constituent Assembly Elections 2008 and 2013. For the analysis I have   created a data set (SPSS) by using the election data recorded in the Election Commission of Nepal. To understand social cost and benefits, I have interviewed some 80 political leaders who have switched their party during the 24 years of democracy.

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Modernity Multiplied: B.P Koirala’s Women Between Literature and Politics
Ajapa Sharma, M.A Modern History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Abstract: BP Koirala’s claims that we understand his literary persona as anarchist and his political persona as socialist has allowed for an easy location of his figure in Nepali historiography, often separately, within literature and within politics.[1] His insistence that we resolve any dilemma over his persona by bifurcating him into the literary and political is difficult to take unquestioningly. The lines of continuity between the literary and political beg further investigation. This paper asks whether it is possible to place BP squarely within self-claimed intellectual camps through an investigation of his treatment of the question of gender. It is over the question of gender, that the blurred boundaries between the political and the literary BP become evident. Revisiting BP’s writings, both fictional as well as autobiographical, in which he tells us the stories of women, real and fictional, this paper questions his self-made claims on particular intellectual traditions. The implications of this exploration are on how we understand modernity in South Asia.

Nepali historiography has taken Koirala’s modernity for granted. However, the question of what this modernity entails requires further investigation. Drawing on the conceptualization of literary modernity as the ability to draw from several locations and traditions, ideological positions and practices, a self-conscious mode of self-presentation, a reinterpretation of B.P Koirala’s modernity becomes possible1. Scholars working on the question of modernity in South Asia have suggested that we understand the instability of modernity as practice2. Rather than understanding modernity as a pre-constituted ideal to be located within Western intellectual traditions, they insist on seeing South Asian intellectuals, thinkers and litterateurs as having access to a variety of intellectual traditions to draw upon. The selective appropriation of such traditions by South Asians works, it has been suggested, to radically relativize intellectual and literary traditions3.

Through archival research and textual analysis, this paper makes an attempt to understand the aforementioned tensions of modernity within Koirala’s notions about gender. While the influence of French socialism, Indian nationalism and Freudian psychoanalysis, in his narrativization of the lives of women is evident, BP takes these different intellectual strands as points of departure and sites of experimentation. B.P’s treatment of the question of gender and sexuality, this paper suggests, is a reworking of the categories within these intellectual strands. Through the practice of writing about women, BP engaged in a rethinking and reconceptualization of fundamental premises of the ideologies of gender – those of the past and those of his present. At the same time, he also engaged in a reworking of gender ideologies at the national and international level. In conclusion, this paper suggests that we refrain from seeing BP’s notions about gender in terms a finished and stable set of ideas. It is the emergent quality of his narratives of the lives of women is a reminder of the wide range of possibilities open for South Asians engaged in the process of modernity, possibilities that multiplied modernity itself.

  1. Javed Majeed, “Literary Modernity in South Asia,” in India and the British Empire, Douglas M Peers and Nandini Gooptu, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  2. Feminist writers in India have explored the contestations in the colonial public sphere over the questions of gender and modernity. See Tanika Sarkar, Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation, (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001).
  3. Majeed, “Literary Modernity in South Asia

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Belonging and Border in the Twentieth Century Nepali Novels
Mallika Shakya, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi

Abstract: Can literary genres offer the corpus necessary for social scientists to explore alternative views on nationalism? This paper reads Nepali fiction and poetry to make sense of the histories of exclusion and inclusion on Nepali borders. What have poetry and fictions been saying about a transborder way of life? How are pre-national memories reconciled within nationalist discourses to make way for a post- or trans-national future? How can anthropology to borrow from and lend to these literary imaginations?

Although Nepal was unified as a nation-state over two and half a century ago, it underwent several national transitions questioning what it meant to be a Nepali. I try to make sense of such national dilemmas through an anthropological reading of a selected body of novels penned by two of Nepal’s most prominent writers – BP Koirala and Parijat. BP Koirala’s novels look at the ironies of life in the interstices of nation. He writes about rebellious and nomadic moments of everyday life that cannot be contained within the fixity of national boundaries and structures. Despite belonging to a political ideology different from Koirala’s, Parijat’s novels echo Koirala as her poetics invoke the banality of violence that is inherent in the idea of the nation state. A juxtaposition of Koirala and Parijat’s lives with their literary work points to the compartmental approach they have taken to fend the private from public concerns but also the poetic from the rational. Koirala penned most of his novels during his long incarceration in jail, following a conscious decision to end his political exile in India and face the brutalities back home. Parijat negotiated political Marxism in her self-exile in Nepal even as she remained deeply individualistic and anarchic in her search for the meanings of life against chronic illness and anguish. That their literary writings express so much of what remained unsaid in their political writings suggest the possibilities of using poetics as an anthropological tool to further queries on nations and borders.

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Exile, Sovereignty, and the Place of Palpa in the Making of the India-Nepal Borderland (c. 1790 to 1816)
Catherine Warner, PhD, South Asian History, University of Washington, Seattle (2014)

Abstract: Nepal and the East India Company expanded into the Himalayan foothills and adjoining tarai in the late eighteenth century by employing a number of similar strategies but quite divergent understandings of state formation and power. Nepal dismantled a number of hill polities consisting of self-proclaimed Rajput lineages that controlled trans-Himalayan trade routes along with some area of agricultural land in the tarai; disputes between the Company and Nepal formed around these tarai holdings of the former principalities. The former hill polities had gained authority over largely indigenous groups of subjects, as well as an increasing monopoly on local property regimes, from the sixteenth century. In order to gain political traction in the northern tarai and southern Himalayan foothills, both Nepal and the East India Company had to negotiate with former sovereigns who lost exclusive command over their rajyas and sought refuge either under the conquering power, were killed, or, quite frequently, shifted their households into exile in neighboring territories. These Rajas, however, continued to be recognized by multiple actors, including subjects, personal servants, and local landlords, as retaining vestiges of sovereign power in the decades preceding the Anglo-Nepal War. An often overlooked but key event destabilizing the relationship between Nepal and the Company was Nepal’s final military occupation of Palpa, a substantial hill principality covering an area spanning the current India-Nepal borderland. Nepal’s annexation of Palpa in 1804 lengthened its fuzzy zone of direct territorial contact with the Company as the latter, under Governor-General Wellesley, in 1801 had annexed large portions of the independent state of Awadh’s territory around Gorakhpur. Further, the exiled heir and surviving members of the Palpa Sen family settled in Gorakhpur after 1804. When the East India Company attempted to collect revenue in Palpa’s former tarai which it considered to be part of its newly annexed territories, disputes arose between Nepal and the Company over the meaning of sovereignty and rights to collect land revenue. Incompatible notions of sovereignty and its relationship to rights in land underscored the conflicts leading to the Anglo-Nepal War of 1814 to 1816. Drawing upon colonial British archives as well as published and archival sources in Nepali, this paper examines changing notions and practices of sovereignty and political exile in the nascent India-Nepal borderland from the end of the eighteenth century through the Ango-Nepal War of 1816.

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Presenting the Absence: A Contrapuntal Reading of the Maita in Nepali Teej Songs
Balram Uprety, Assistant Professor in English, St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling, India

Abstract: This paper seeks to underscore the fact that much before the arrival of Western feminism in Nepal with its vocabulary of protest and polemics, the discourse of right and fight, the Nepali women have a long complex and ambivalent genealogy of protest in the genre of Teej songs. However, such discourses have been rendered invisible by the dominant epistemology that derives its ideological sustenance from the Eurocentric and Enlightenment paradigm of knowledge production. The collusion of native patriarchy with the dominant epistemological system can be located in the absence of any systematic engagement with the Teej songs in the indigenous academia. Through Nepali women’s complex and highly nuanced conceptualization of the maita (the parental home) and the ghar (the house where women get married into), the paper seeks to show how Nepali women problematize not only the Western construction of the silenced native subaltern, but also the erasure of Nepali women’s voice in the construction of ‘knowledge’ by the native patriarchy.

The paper further seeks to underscore the changing contours of maita and Teej in the urban production and consumption of Teej in the era of market economy and globalization. The spatial as well as the religious underpinnings undergo a seismic shift as we journey from the originary to the urban; from the ‘purity’ of the folk to the hybridity of the metropolitan. Firstly, with mass mobility due to the introduction of the modern means of transport and communication, space sheds much of its oppressive quality for women. Secondly, with the growing power of democracy, modernity, western rationality and globalization, the religious aspect of Tīj experiences a significant change. When the context that underpinned the spatial and l religious axes of Tīj, that is, the vast distance between parental home and the in-law’s home, and deification of the husband as mentor and god have changed, the urban Tīj often expresses these standard tropes almost as anachronisms, contradictions.

The urban Tīj enacts a carnivalesque de-bunking of the māita’s “halo” in two different ways. Firstly, in the urban Tīj there is almost a snapping of the umbilical cord of Tīj with the māita. Women’s construction of alternative celebratory spaces in party venues, in auditoria, in each other’s houses undermines the site of the māita as an indispensable existential signifier. It is difficult to imagine the māita without the Law of the Father: going home on Tīj is going to the home of the Father. In conducting celebrations in auditoria and friends’ homes, women move away from the phallocentricity of the māita rendering it less important. The birth of the māita as a space is predicated upon the symbolic and ritual death of the daughter in marriage. The urban women’s moving away from this place, is thus the inauguration of new spaces outside the māita that are life-affirming and existentially celebratory. The women’s relocation of Tīj is symbolic of their empowerment. In the rural binary spatialization, if the ghar is conceived as a space of drudgery and tyranny, the māita is conceived of as a space of recuperation, renewal, plenitude, and fulfillment. The celi needed periodic rescue and recuperation at the māita. In women’s realignment of space in urban locations, women have created new spaces of renewal and recuperation – a rejection of their vulnerability and victimhood.

Questioning the idealized constructions of maita and the erasure of women’s construction of an a complex alternative epistemology of the maita in the old Teej songs, the paper makes a shift to the cityscape of Kathmandu and  critically scrutinizes and unravels the ‘carnivalization’ of the maita in the urban praxis of Teej.

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Women Educational Migrants Return to Nepal and Their Role in Transforming Society “Ghar ki Le Ghar Garnu, Marda Le Chari Khanu”
Laxmi Dhungel, PhD candidate, Kathmandu University School of Arts, Dhulikhel

Abstract: This Nepali proverb asserts that women need to involve in household activities as their livelihood but male need to migrate here and there for survival. It focuses on the traditional dimension of migration. In past days there was domination of patriarchal culture in Nepal. A strong patriarchal feeling is ingrained in members of Nepalese society, which undermines structural poverty, discrimination against women in the public and private sectors and various forms of violence against women (Mark W, 2010).  This paper highlights the returns aspects of the migrant’s women. To see the return aspects it has focused on women role in transforming society and their participation in politics. It especially focuses on the practices happening in a way of negotiating the learned behavior and existing practices in the society.

This paper attempts to show the experiences of migrant women in the host country and their involvement in the various development activities in home countries after having higher education in abroad. Taking gender as a main analytical approach, it tries to bring the things that are brought by female educational migrants in Nepal. By observing their engagement it will try to see their role and its linkage in transforming society.

This research is based on qualitative approach. The returnee women who have completed their higher education and settled in Nepal are taken interview. In this process the in-depth interview is conducted from the participants. The location of the  interview is Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. It is selected because the access of getting returnee women in Kathmandu is higher.

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Between Social Evil and Social Necessity: The Dual Meaning of Kathmandu Dalāls
Andrew Nelson, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of North Texas, Denton, U.S.A.

Abstract: As part of a larger comparative project on middlemen in South Asia and Latin America, this paper addresses the social category of dalāl in Nepali society with a particular focus on manpower agents. Borrowed from Arabic and Farsi, the term, dalāl, stems from the Semitic root  “dal-lam-lam” which carries the meaning of guiding, or pointing something out, or evening directing someone towards something. In South Asian Sanskrit-based languages, it has come to signify brokers, or middlemen traders, of goods and people. In Nepali language and society, dalāl refers to a range of occupations as varied as prostitution pimps and real estate agents. In these various roles, the dalāl serves an in-between role as, for instance, a negotiator between two parties, or a translator of legal and illegal codes and practices, or even a bridge over cultural and national boundaries.

Socially positioned within liminal spaces, dalāls often signify multiple and contradictory social meanings. I am particularly interested in how they can represent social evil and simultaneously serve as providers of services sought by many, particularly in economic sectors not regulated or supplied by the state. As such, they are disdained and needed, distrusted and relied on. Historically, this double meaning extends back to colonial South Asia in which the labor broker (sardar) was understood to be a symbol of oppression and exploitation (Chakrabarty 1989) as well as an “informal network of support” (Basu 2004). Like the sardar, the dalāl has been described in a range of ways from self-interested and corrupt land dealers (Levien 2011) to trusted figures in grain markets (Gregory 1997) in north India. In spite of the negative connotation of the term dalāl, I have found in my own research on land markets in Kathmandu that dalāls also symbolize a certain know-how that is both resented and prized. Particularly in situations where the state is not present or purposefully avoided, the dalāl’s expertise and networks are especially appreciated.

In no case from contemporary Nepal is the double meaning of the dalāl more apparent than in the manpower agents of Kathmandu, who work as recruiters of transnational labor pools, sending Nepali workers around the globe to places as far-flung as India, the Persian Gulf, Southeast and East Asia, and even North America and Europe. Despite a widespread perception of manpower dalāls as exploitative and deceitful (Adhikari 2009-10), even as corrupt ‘conmen’ (Bruslé 2008), the transnational agency and economic promise of labor brokers grants them an attractive power to many people throughout Nepal. I argue that this promise is based on the ability of such agents to transcend social, geographic and legal boundaries established by state power and formal economic structures.

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Men’s Perspectives on Sexual Harassment against Women in Public Space in Kathmandu
Gita Neupane,
PhD Candidate, Sociology, University of Hawaii

Abstract: Despite the fact that anyone can perpetuate violence, evidence from many studies shows that males as a dominant gender group are much more likely to be the perpetrators and the existence of “male” violence against women does suggest such violence as a consequence of unequal power relationships. Sexual harassment is one such example although its variation exists in terms of its level and nature across different cultures and societies since the masculine resources vary to create and claim membership in a dominant gender group. Most studies on sexual harassment have elicited responses from women and such responses provide important insights in understanding the nature and consequences of sexual harassment. However, it provides only a partial picture. In my previous study on sexual harassment in public transport in Kathmandu, 97% of 220 colleges going women reported that they had at least some experience of harassment on public transport in their life time. Many empirical studies document evidence that there are not just ‘a few’ ‘deviant’ men who harass women; there are more such men than one perhaps expects. Therefore, little is known about how public space and women’s presence in such space is understood my men. Hence, the present study investigates the relationship between masculinity and violence and the way men understand sexual harassment against women in public space particularly in public transport and streets.

This study, a part of ongoing dissertation research, uses a mixed method approach to collect data from men who are 18 and older college/university students/teachers, office workers and daily wage laborers who use public space more than two times a week in Kathmandu. The preliminary findings have some important implications. The participants witnessed such harassment every so often but most of them did not consider themselves as harassers. They acknowledged the rampant existence of harassment activities in public space but mentioned “other men” as the perpetrators and noted, “I am not a harasser but I have seen many cases of harassment in public space.” However, most of them reported that they are normally involved in verbal teasing to similar or younger women. Many of them assume that women normally expect teasing and they do not consider it as harassment. It is mainly done for fun, time pass and showing superiority among other male friends. Mainly drawing insights from masculine identity as part of doing masculinity (Messerschmidt 2000) and manhood acts (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009), I will analyze my findings on how motives and violent repertoires for men are socially organized, structured within institutions, observed and inspected by peers, and used as expressions of friendships, authority, and masculine identity.

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‘Maybe it’s just a phase’: Parental Reaction to Non-heterosexuality
Shreemanjari Tamrakar, MPhil Student in Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Tracy Ghale, Research Associate, Social Science Baha; and Sanjay Sharma, Consultant, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal

Abstract: The scant academic work on Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Intersex (LBGTI) community of Nepal concentrates on the LGBTI movement, their legal status after the recognition of LGBTI as the third gender by the Supreme Court of Nepal, and considerations to recognise gay marriage. This acknowledgement is considered historic for the community, ideally paving the way for greater social acceptance. However, the legal and policy strides have not been able to ensure social and individual acceptance. Even the state level policy implementation has not been very encouraging. Research in many parts of the world have shown that LGBTI are still excluded and hidden from the social sphere, and ‘coming out’ can be a decision fraught with lasting emotional, physical, social challenges for the LGBTI person and their family.

The exclusion starts within the most intimate aspect of people’s lives: their families. Past studies have disclosed that parents tend to react in a negative fashion upon the disclosure about the child’s sexual orientation. Michel Foucault states that talking about sex and sexuality are taken as a taboo in many societies; when societies accept only the sexual relations between two ‘legitimate’ heterosexuals, it is of a great infliction for the families to accept the fact that their ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ is a homosexual. The paper digs deeper into these negative reactions and seek out the various nuances to these reactions within the context of homophobia and heterosexism.

With five in-depth interviews with the families of LGBTIs and five key informant interviews with LGBTI rights activists, the paper focuses on identifying and analysing the drivers influencing parents’ reaction and the impact it has on the LGBTI child’s existence in the predominantly heterosexual milieu of society. Some LGBTI people have been fortunate to be supported by their parents to identify themselves as a sexual minority; but majority of them have had a lonely existence or form their community for greater support. The paper argues that despite some positive initiatives towards legalising homosexuality at the state level, the stigma and fear attached at the societal and individual level towards the LGBTI community, and the intolerance towards homosexuality continues to brand it as an acquired and unnatural way to be.

Key words: LGBTI, Nepal, homosexuality, parents, stigma, intolerance

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The City as a Bourgeois Desire
Sabin Ninglekhu, Member, Editorial Board, New Angle: NepalJournal of Social Science and Public Policy

Abstract: Kathmandu today exists in a conjuncture framed through multiple layers of overlapping moments: On the one hand, there is an evolving politico-economic landscape of municipal and local governance owing to projects of economic liberalization that might be termed ‘gentrification of state-spaces’ (Ghertner 2011); on the other hand, there is a changing aspirational landscape for the unpropertied working class tied to the fading promises of Nayaa Nepal and the failure of radical politics to reimagine ‘the urban’. In this context, this paper seeks to interrogate the demand for the right to the city advanced by squatter communities, or sukumbasi, in Kathmandu, as a category of analysis with recourse to an account of extreme marginality. As a starting premise, this paper seeks inspiration from Kristin Ross’ (1967) take on everyday life incubating not just a mundane space that reproduces dominant relations of power, but also a space in which utopian possibilities and political aspirations may be manifest. Keeping this dual character of everyday life in mind, this paper investigates the conditions that enable sukumbasi to make radical claims for the right to the city – rights to obtain ownership of land and formal citizenship status in the absence of ‘legal qualifications’. What occurs when such radical claims confront governmental programs that could potentially destabilize the inhabitance upon which such claims are founded? How do state-led ‘bourgeois environmentalism’ initiatives (Baviskar 2011), as they encounter ‘slums’, produce spatial imaginaries, portray subjects, and contend with the interface of everyday life and threats to habitation? How does the threat of violence and eviction inform the political subjectivity of sukumbasi and renewed strategies of inhabitation? Through an ethnographic exploration of an anti-eviction campaign organized to resist such threats, this paper studies the tactics and modes of resistance deployed by sukumbasi to advance a new demand—‘justice-based resettlement’—reducing in the process, the realm of politics of the poor to ‘sentimental humanitarianism’ (Das, 2007). Such metamorphosed demand, forged in the crucible of crisis, may have been politically feasible from having mobilized state discourse of the ‘inauthentic sukumbasi’, but may too have lost the radical content of the more aspirational Right to the City demands. In adopting the state’s governmental framework to distinguish between ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ sukumbasi, the sukumbasi movement’s leadership produced class cleavage among different sukumbasi — between those who were alleged to be ‘landed’ and those given a ‘landless’ designation. An assessment of the ‘feasible’ demands, and the processes through which they were articulated, yields critical insights about the right to the city formulation and foregoing representations of subaltern politics, such as ‘deep democracy’ (Appadurai 2002) and ‘political society’ (Chatterjee 2004), that emphasize and idealize the solidarity of the poor. In considering the politics and contingencies of the right to the city, we are presented with a stark understanding of the possibilities and limits of the political aspirations of the poor.

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The role of mental health and psychosocial support NGOs: reflections from post conflict Nepal
Nawaraj Upadhaya, Health Net TPO, the Netherlands and Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan

Abstract: Armed conflicts and other humanitarian crises impact mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. In contexts of overwhelming need and overstretched government health systems, nongovernmental organisations may play important roles. In this paper, we reflect on the role of Nepali nongovernmental organisations in providing mental health and psychosocial support services. In Nepal, nongovernmental organisations have provided a range of trainings, implemented interventions, organised awareness raising campaigns and conducted research on mental health and psychosocial issues in the context of political violence and natural disasters. Some have been able to capitalise on the emerging interest of humanitarian donors in mental health to strengthen the platform for sustainable mental health reforms. Nongovernmental organisations taking on such tasks have demonstrated strengths as well as presented challenges. Strengths included easy access to local communities, better understanding of local contexts, quick and flexible response mechanism and access to marginalised populations and underserved areas. Challenges have included a lack of programme sustainability, weak collaboration and high staff turnover. Similarly, due to a lack of accreditation of training courses and rigorous monitoring of services, it has been difficult to independently verify the quality of services provided by nongovernmental organisations. Based on observations, the authors highlight the importance of: the integration of mental health into the broader humanitarian, health and social systems; strong partnerships with governments; strong alliances between NGOs for more effective advocacy with policy makers; a focus on monitoring, evaluation and research; standardisation of training curriculums and clinical services; and a focus on anti-stigma interventions.

Keywords: mental health, Nepal, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), role

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Suicide Surveillance and Health Systems: How Nepali Institutions Frame a Growing Public Health Burden
Ashley Hagaman, PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Global Health, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Uden Maharjan, MPH, Thammasat University, Thailand 

Abstract: Suicide is one of the fastest-growing and least-understood causes of death, particularly in low and middle-income countries (WHO 2011). The institutions involved in the derivation of taxonomic categories used to define and report suicide deaths, importantly shape how the burden is understood, (un)validated, and responded to at varying levels of social authority (familial, community, national). Despite growing recognition of the high burden of suicide deaths in low and middle income countries (WHO 2008) and an alarming level of suicide among Nepali women specifically (Suvedi et al, 2009), Nepal’s Ministry of Health does not systematically collect or report on suicides (Khan, 2002; Pradhan et al, 2011). Suicide data are filtered through reporting systems shaped by social, cultural, legal, and medical institutions. This study seeks to analyze networks drawn by police, policy, and health officials in order to better understand vital surveillance in Nepal and investigate how institutional networks affect how suicide deaths might be (un)documented and (un)reported within varying institutions.

Social network analysis can be used to not only show the ties between actors in a system, but the impact the relationships between actors can have on decision-making, flow of information and the overall structure of a society (Borgatti et al 2009). Particularly in developing contexts, such as Nepal, it is important to understand how increasingly complex information is being collected, assessed and shared. Four months of ethnographic fieldwork were conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal. 30 semi-structured interviews were conducted across health system levels from the macro (WHO, World Bank, DfID) to national bodies (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Police) and key organizations (government hospitals, police departments). Interviewees were asked to hand draw how deaths due to suicide were differentiated and documented. Subjects included data pathways and repositories so that comparisons could be made between the ‘official’ death surveillance system with how it is understood and followed by those implementing it. Textual data was coded and content analysis was performed in MaxQDA 10.1. Pictoral networks were coded and quantified and social network analysis (SNA) was performed in R Studio Version 0.98.1062.

Overall, there was large variation across the participant perceived networks, where some networks were linear pathways dominated by a single institution (police or community) with few nodes involved in data transmission, while others were complex and communicative. Such disagreement suggests disconnection amongst institutions. SNA demonstrated that police institutions controlled the majority of suicide information collection and reporting, while health and community institutions were peripherally involved. According to international ‘gold standard’ surveillance networks (WHO, 1999), macro level institutions like WHO should always be the ‘terminal’ point of data deposits. However, no informants indicated that information arrived at the WHO headquarters within Nepal. Network structures varied dramatically across institutional informants and surveillance was reported as incomplete and fragmented. Suicide surveillance remains a fragmented and disconnected process. Findings indicate a need for better communication of health systems frameworks across sectors (police, health, policy). Improved health information systems will further enhance the success of subsequent health improvement programs.

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Schooling Languages: Investigating Language-in-Education Policies and Educational Aspirations in Jhapa District, Nepal
Miranda Weinberg, PhD Candidate, Educational Linguistics and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: This paper investigates what happens when an indigenous language is allowed into school for the first time. While Nepal’s constitution has guaranteed all communities the right to basic education in their mother tongues since 1990, implementation of this promise has been slow. I argue that language-in-education policies, rather than being technical solutions to solvable problems as policies and international development agencies represent the issue, are sites of political struggle, shaped by relations of power and inequality between languages, and more especially their speakers. One result of these relations is that speakers of minoritized languages increasingly demand schooling in English for their children, and have in many cases shifted to using Nepali in their daily lives. Language policies designed for idealized homogeneous villages, moreover, are poorly equipped to confront realities of migration and heterogeneous settlement.

In this paper, I draw on seven months of ongoing ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Jhapa District and in Kathmandu. I discuss two contrasting government schools in the outskirts of Damak Muncipality. One school holds instruction entirely in Nepali and English, despite serving an almost entirely Dhimal student body, most of whom speak Dhimal language fluently and some of whom barely understand Nepali when they enter school. A neighbouring school recently introduced a Dhimal language subject, which teachers described as supporting Dhimal students’ education and fulfilling their right to mother-tongue education. However, less than one-third of this school’s student body is considered Dhimal; many other students are recent migrants from hills to the north of Jhapa, themselves considered indigenous. Through participant observation and interviews with the people associated with these two schools (e.g., students, teachers, parents, School Management Committee members and education bureaucrats), analysis of linguistic variation, and study of documents including government policies and textbooks, I focus on how these actors understand the signs of speaking and acting as an educated person, how these behaviors and ways of speaking relate to additional social categories, and how these are represented at various levels of educational policy.

This work contributes to the ongoing critique of development initiatives that view complex issues as technical, solvable issues, but brings it forward as well. Beyond arguing that issues of language and education are tied to issues of identity, emotion, and politics, this study contributes to understanding of the Nepali state and interactions between the state and individuals, as schools represent a common point of contact between the state and individuals of many ages. The case of educational language policies is therefore a fertile site for examining changes in the relationship between the Nepali state and individuals, understandings of what it means to be indigenous, and the goals of the various actors involved in schooling.

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Becoming a Musahar and Making Space:  Storytelling as an Art of Telling History in Eastern Tarai
Madhu Giri, Ph.D., Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur 

Abstract: Oral narrative or storytelling is an ancient cultural practice of making connections between past and present. This narratological (Homo Narrans) episteme of storytelling (somewhere poetic recitation or art painting) is elementary method of cultural connections, historical reproduction and understanding of transformation as well as diversity among the people of throughout generations.  Maharae Gaune (Public event of mythical storytelling about Dina-Bhadri) is a collective initiation ritual of the Musahars because they mentally travel from mythical spatial temporal landscape to the present with the expert storyteller.  They remembered and refreshed divine power of their ancestors that was really crisis in this moment. Storytelling is political both in its messages and in its practices.  Beside therapeutic function of psychological unity and empowerment of story, if they listened the whole story of Dina Bhadri, they would become the Musahar in perfect sense of history and culture.

The quest of understanding oral narratives and interpretation of stories, folklore through anthropological lens is marginalized in Nepalese academia. The double propose of this paper is to explore marginal  voice of history through storytelling practice among marginalized communities like the Musahars  and to  explore anthropology of telling culture as narrative tool, particularly teaching learning practices of Nepalese scholarship in anthropology, as an self-reflexive art of history making in different communities.  This paper is both theoretical and empirical. The first part deals with anthropology of storytelling and the second part is about understanding the Musahrs community through storytelling practice.

These dramatic performances of storytelling events have been creating social-cultural space of the Musahars for centuries. Apparently non-political act of telling myth and stories to the youth is micro political act of production of space among them. The science of storytelling literally connects geometrical meaning of physicality as well as metaphysical space of human creation. This movement from transcendental space to spatial space was possible through storytelling. The paper clearly talks about blurred boundary of history, myth and story. Moreover, organic reproduction of blurred space through organized storytelling events is interesting historical consciousness as well as construction of Musahar self in Tarai. The stories of being and becoming Musahars are articulated differently.

The research is based on historical ethnographic engagement of the researcher with the Musahar community since 2008 to present. The paper is primarily based on a chapter of my Ph.D. dissertation that I have been writing at Cornell University as a visiting researcher. Most of the oral narratives were collected different phases of fieldwork from 2010 to 2013 at Siraha.

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On “Thumcharu”: The Concept of “Tradition” in Byans, Far western Nepal
Katsuo Nawa, Professor, Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Abstract: In post-1990 Nepal, it seems to be quite easy for an ethnographer to find the local sociocultural situation, within janajati societies among others, in which essentialistic praise of one’s own tradition and culture in the discursive level has coexisted with various attempts of sociocultural reform on the one hand, and easily observable sociocultural transformations on the other. To sort out this complex situation ethnographically, it is necessary to investigate how people have conceptualized what anthropologists have treated as their “culture” and “tradition”, without presupposing such Western concepts as well as their Nepali quasi-equivalents. In this presentation, I deal with this task by scrutinizing usages and connotations of the compound noun “thumcharu”, a Byansi term which has been used among Rangs in Byans, Far Western Nepal and adjacent regions.

Byans is the uppermost valley of the Mahakali (Kali) River that constitutes the western border between India and Nepal. The main inhabitants of the valley, often tagged as Byansi in Nepal and as Bhotia in India, call themselves Rang in their own language.  Rangs traditionally live in and around three Himalayan regions, Byans, Chaudans, and Darma. Most of their villages lie in Uttarakhand, India, and only four villages lie within the territory of Nepal. Currently Rang is officially categorized as an adivasi janajati in Nepal, while in Uttarakhand, they have officially constituted a part of a scheduled tribe “Bhotia.”

In 1990s many Rangs in Byans rendered the word thumcharu as “customs and manners” or “tradition” in English and as ritiriwaj or parampara in Nepali. Some even rendered it as “culture”. Whereas the word thum means a particular rule or custom, thumcharu connotes an aggregate of various individual rules, customs, and manners, an essentialized tradition as a whole shared among a group of people. Thus, obviously, Rangs have their own thumcharu. On the other hand, there exist various inner diversities of rules and customs within Rangs, which are regarded as differences of thumcharu. Thus people of Byans, Chaudans, and Darma have their own respective thumcharu, and each village has its own thumcharu. Furthermore, not only Rangs have their thumcharu. For them, each caste and ethnic group, each region, and each nation has its own respective thumcharu.

Many Rangs praise their own thumcharu as the core of Rang-ness transmitted from the ancient past in various occasions, notably in ritual speeches and traditional improvised songs. On the other hand, they straightforwardly admit that their thumcharu has changed a lot in recent past, not necessarily with nostalgic and entropic flavour. Indeed, they have conceptualized thumcharu as something inherited as a whole but can be modified deliberately in part, and have actually modified various parts of it, sometimes drastically.

Based on my own fieldwork from 1993 to the present in far western Nepal, Kathmandu valley and elsewhere, I show in this presentation how this essentialistic but plastic concept has been utilized while they have actually changed their customs, norms.

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Being in the Shadow of Death: Existential reflections on Mortality as a Modality of Being-in-the-world in the Sinja Valley of Western Nepal
Samuele Poletti, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK

Abstract: Starting from a concrete episode of my fieldwork, in this paper I try to reflect on how consciousness of death may help us to shed light upon the ways in which people in the Sinja Valley of Jumla District (Western Nepal) include death in life in the attempt to make sense of existence, and in what ways this concretises in everyday life. However, borrowing from Heidegger and the existential anthropology proposed by Jackson, my argument is that worldviews are intrinsically embedded into the domain of lived experience, in which they are generated and upon which in turn they produce concrete effects, and cannot be extrapolated from it as abstract entities. Therefore, showing how it is not about “knowledge” of the world but of “engagement” in it, I move away from the, perhaps, overemphasised reflexive domain of the cogitum, in an attempt to dissolve the Cartesian dichotomy between “action” and “thought” within the flow of lived experience. Along these lines, I present death as a modality of being-in-the-world, and the “Other” as the only way in which our consciousness can expand beyond itself, contemplating other modalities of existence that challenge the assertive and universalist answers given by philosophy.

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MANI, The Hidden Valley of Happiness at a Crossroads (Documentary, 40 mins)
Sonam Lama, Returning expert, Nepal Transportation and Development Research Centre, Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Kathmandu, Nepal 

Abstract: 40 minutes long documentary is a first time portrait of architectural heritage, Buddhist sites and monuments in remote valleys of central Himalaya of Nepal, known as Tsum sbas-yul skid-mo-lung, sacred and hidden lands of happiness. The documentary follows a sudden arrvial of bulldozer (a heavy construction equipment) in the valley in September 2013 and construction of one of the eight North South Transit Route Developments (NSTRDs) aiming to connect Tibet Autonomous Region of China and India however, without any consideration of imminent threats on cultural fabric of the region.

Based on the documentary, I argue that Tsum communities hold rich oral histories to explain the local significance on spiritual underpinnings of cultural heritage and their opinions on impacts of bringing a motor road goes much deeper than whether or not the road should be built. By doing so, it proves that road in culturally sensitive region in the Himalaya in general and Tsum in particular poses back reciprocal challenges against engineering solution for transportation needs during the process of reconciliation between conservation and development.

Key words: Tsum, Nepal, architectural heritage, conservation, development, reconciliation

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1934 Earthquake Revisited: A View from the Archives
Shamik Mishra
and Deepak Aryal, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya

Abstract: Natural disasters like flood, earthquake and landslides are common occurrences in Nepal. Along with the socio-economic costs, the bigger disasters have more often than not brought political consequences too. We choose the 1934 earthquake to argue that revisiting such a natural disaster through archival sources will not only provide a more nuanced understanding of the event, but also compel the research community to ask questions that will have implications on how states and societies can better cope with natural disasters and what kind of bearing the nature of the state will have on the aftermath.

[1] Narahari Acharya, ‘Bisheshwor Prasad Koiralako Sumnima Upanyasle Prastut Gareko Jiwan Darshan, in Bisheshwor Prasad Koirala Samalochana Ra Bicharma, ed. Jivanchandra Koirala, (Kathmandu: BP Anusanshan Tatha Sewa Kendra, 1996-7), 167-75.

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