Panels/Sessions 2018

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The following panels/papers have been selected for this year’s conference. Please click on the paper title to read the abstract. A more detailed schedule will be uploaded in July.

SN Presenter (s) Paper Title Panel Title
1. Guillaume Boucher
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Continuity and Rupture: A Catholic Perspective on Christian Conversion in Nepal Healing, Ritual and Belonging: Explorations of Christianity in Nepal
2. Victoria Dalzell
Independent Scholar (adjunct teaching faculty at multiple colleges and universities in Southern California, USA)
“Our God is Not a Foreign God”: Ritual Music Practice and Tharu Ethnicity Within Western Nepal’s Christian Community

3. Sujeet Karn
Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari
Sohan Prasad Sha
Researcher, Martin Chautari
Socio-Political Production of Borders without Borderlands: Case Study of East West Highway in Nepal Nepal’s Complex and Contested ‘Transition’: Discussion from the Margins
4. Sujeet Karn
Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari
Political Mobilisation and Borderland Brokers in Nepal’s Tarai 
5. Sangita Thebe Limbu
Research Fellow, Martin Chautari
Post War Reconstruction, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Everyday Life: Case Study of Bardiya
6. Sara Shneiderman
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-conflict, Post-disaster Reconstruction Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation
7. Dan Hirslund
Associate Professor, Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Chains of Exploitation: Skills, Solidarity and Survival in Kathmandu’s Urban Construction Industry
8. Bishnu Pandey
Faculty, Civil Engineering, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada
Untangling the Technology-society Knot: An Engineer’s Social Scientific Observations of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Process in Rural Nepal
9. Dinesh Paudel
Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA
Philippe Le Billon
Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada 
The Geopolitics of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal Panel B
10. Omer Aijazi
Sessional Instructor, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia, Canada
Infrastructures of Social Repair: Insights from Northern Pakistan and Kashmir
11. Jeevan Baniya
Assistant Director, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal
State-Society Relationships After Nepal’s 2015 Earthquakes
12. Lagan Rai
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Rural Roads Matters: Debate and Practice of Road Building in the Eastern Plains of Nepal Ethnographies of Infrastructure: Roads, State Building and Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts
13. Shyam Bdr. Kunwar
Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
The Politics of the Road: Ethnography of Charikot-Singati-Lamabager Road of Dolakha, Central Nepal
14. Katharine Rankin 
Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada
Tulasi Sharan Sigdel 
Director of Studies, Nepal Administrative Staff College, Nepal
Elsie Lewison
PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada
Corruption, road building and the politics of social science research in post-conflict Nepal
15. Michael Hutt
Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, SOAS, University of London
The Nepali Poetry of the 2015 Earthquakes and their Aftermath After the Earth’s Violent Sway: the tangible and intangible legacies of earthquakes in Nepal
16. Stefanie Lotter
Teaching Fellow, South Asia Department, SOAS,  University of London
Missing Rani Pokhari: Conditions for Alternative Futures in a Monument Destroyed
17. John Whelpton
Convenor, Circulus Latinus Honcongensis
Juddha Shamsher and the 1934 Earthquake
18. Amanda Chisholm
Lecturer in International Relations, University of Newcastle
Hanna Ketola
Research Associate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle
Taking Militarism to Market: Entanglements of Race, Caste, Gender in Marketing Nepali Security TBD
19. Amar BK
PhD Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Social Injustice and Emerging Subaltern Religiosity Nepal TBD
20. Anchala Chaudhary Lecturer in Sociology, Prithvi Narayan Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal Livelihood Practices in Transnational Space (A Case Study of Family Left Behind in Nepal) TBD
21. Andrea de la Rubia Gomez-Moran
PhD Candidate, History of Art, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Contemporary Art of Nepal, Picturing a Nation, Performing an Identity TBD
22. Anup Shekhar Chakraborty
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Studies, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, India
Representing and Performing the Contested Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’: Virtualisation of the Public Sphere and the Aesthetics of ‘being Gorkha’ in South Asia TBD
23. Arjun Kharel
Researcher, Social Science Baha
Social Perception, Media Representation, and the Policies of Female Labor Migration in Nepal TBD
24. Arjun Kharel
Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal
Ratna Shrestha
Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Nepal office
A Study on the Prevalence of Physical and Sexual Violence Against Returned Women Migrant Workers in Nepal TBD
25. Asaf Sharabi
School of Behavioral Sciences, Peres Academic Center, Israel
Is it God Speaking? The Identity and Agency of Deities in the Western Himalayas TBD
26. Avash Bhandari
PhD Candidate in History, University of Illinois, Chicago
Dibya Upadesh and the Making of a Nationalist Gospel TBD
27. Avash Piya
Aarhus University, Denmark
“We are also Gurkhas”: Changes in Gurkha Recruitment Policy and the Inclusion Discourse in Nepal TBD
28. Bishal K. Chalise
Education Officer, Post Graduate and Research Student Association, (PARSA), Australian National University
Counterfactuals of Maoist War: An Economic Perspective TBD
29. Chiara Letizia
Professor of South Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Blandine Ripert
CNRS Researcher, Ethno-Geography
Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, New Delhi
Centre for South Asian Studies, EHESS-CNRS, Paris
Deviation or Devotion? A Supreme Court Verdict on Animal Sacrifice in Nepal TBD
30. Chudamani Basnet
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi
Ratnakar Jha
Independent Researcher
Intermarriage Between Madhesi Men and Pahadi Women in Southern Nepal TBD
31. Claire Willey Sthapit
PhD Candidate, University of Washington, USA
Domestic Violence in Nepal: A Discourse Analysis of the Research Publications of International Development Institutions TBD
32. Dhana Hamal
University of Toronto, Political Science Department, Alumna
Nepal’s Federal Structure and Its Effects on Democratic Politics TBD
33. Dipti Sherchan
Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois – Chicago
Shifting Imaginations: Contemporary Arts Education and Practices in Nepal TBD
34. Frederic Moronval
Research Laboratory Dylis, Normandy University, Rouen, France
Vitality of language and religion among the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley TBD
35. Gita Neupane
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Normalization of Sexual Harassment: Route to the Masculinization of Public Space TBD
36. Hanna Ketola
Research Associate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle
‘Withdrawing from Politics’ as A Form of Agency: Women Ex-PLA Combatants in Nepal TBD
37. Jacob Rinck
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, USA
Dwarika Thebe
MA Candidate, Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Migration narratives in Nepali news magazines, 1990 – 2017 TBD
38. Kathryn Ruth Stam
Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica/Rome
Perspectives on Religious Identity, Caste, and Culture for Bhutanese-Nepali Refugee Families in the United States TBD
39. Katsuo Nawa
Professor of Cultural Anthropology. Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo
Ambivalence Denied or Unrecognized? A Preliminary Study on Some Governmental Brochures in the Early Panchayat Period TBD
40. Kishan Harijan
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Presidency University, Kolkata
Trans-himalayan Commercial and Cultural Interactions: A Case Study of Colonial Darjeeling Himalaya TBD
41. Krishna P. Adhikari
Research officer, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford
David Gellner
Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Discourses of Development in Marchawar TBD
42. Lok Ranjan Parajuli
Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Power Play: An Intricate Story of the Founding of Nepal’s First University TBD
43. Lopita Nath
Professor of History, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas, USA
An Old Monarchy, A New Democracy and Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: A Holistic Approach for Sustainable Development TBD
44. Mahendra Lawoti
Professor of Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University, USA
When Do Minorities Get Autonomy, And When Do They Not? Marginalized Groups and Movements for Federal Autonomy in Nepal TBD
45. Nabin Maharjan
PhD Candidate, Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada Thomas O’Neill
Professor, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada
Nepalese Canadian Youth Civic Engagement: Young Nepalese Canadians Experiences In High School TBD
46. Neha Sharma
Associate Professor, Sikkim University, India
Swati Akshay Sachdeva
M Phil Candidate, Sikkim University, India
The Other World Connection: A Study of the “Thread Cross” Ceremony in Sikkim TBD
47. Niraj Kumar Roy
PhD Candidate, Centre for Political Studies and International Relations, Central University of South Bihar, Gaya, India
Debating Secularism in Nepal TBD
48. Nirmal Kumar Raut
Assistant Professor, Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal;
Ryuichi Tanaka
Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Other Side of the Civil Conflict in Nepal: An Empirical Exploration into Health and Well-Being TBD
49. Nokmedemla Lemtur
PhD Candidate, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Voices from the Mountain: Hidden Transcripts and Transculturation of Labour in the Nanga Parbat and Everest Expeditions (1922-1939) TBD
50. Ojaswi KC and Roshani Regmi
BA in Law, Kathmandu School of Law, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Legislation and Legitimization of Gender Discriminatory Practices TBD
51. Rachna Bista
MPhil Candidate, Sociology, Sikkim University, India
Dewali through Sociological Lens: A Study of Ancestor Worship amongst the Khadkas of Nepal TBD
52. Rajeev Rai
PhD Candidate, Department of International Relations, Sikkim University, India
Impact of British Colonial Rule in the Modernisation of Sikkim TBD
53. Rajya Laxmi Gurung
MPhil Candidate in Sociology, Tribhuvan University
“Pothi Bashio”: Security of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) in Nepal TBD
54. Ram Narayan Shrestha
PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India
Migrant Husbands and Left-behind Wives: Effect of Spousal Separation on Subjective Well-being of Young Nepali Women TBD
55. Ram Narayan Shrestha
PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India
Krishna Sharma
Consultant, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
Migration and Agrarian Change in Nepal Plains TBD
56. Ramesh Prasad Adhikari
Research Manager, Hellen Keller International, Nepal;
Subash Yogi
M&E and Knowledge Management Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal;
Ajay Acharya
Nutrition and FP Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal and
Kenda Cunningham
Senior Technical Advisor, Suaahara II/USAID
Domestic Violence and Maternal Nutritional Status in Nepal: Findings from NDHS, 2016 TBD
57. Rukh Gurung
Research Assistant, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Reorganizing Resource for School Education: Reflecting on Earthquakes and Subsequent Crisis TBD
58. Sanjaya Aryal
PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK
Beyond Empowerment and Exploitation: Care Chain of Transnational Migratory Nepali Women TBD
59. Sanjaya Mahato
Researcher, Social Science Baha
Pooja Chaudhary
Research Assistant, Social Science Baha
Token Versus Team Work: Women in the Local Bodies of Nepal 2017 TBD
60. Saurabh Kaushik
PhD Candidate, Sikkim University, India
Security Sector Restructuring in Nepal: A Case for ‘Hybridity’ TBD
61. Shak Bahadur Budhathoki
Associate Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal
The Dynamics of Financial Accountability in Nepal’s Community Schools TBD
62. Shishir Ghimire
PhD Candidate, Department of International Relations, South Asian University, India
Reloading Nonalignment: Nepal’s Foreign Policy in the Emerging New World Order TBD
63. Shobhit Shakya
PhD Candidate, Technology Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Heritage Restoration and Traditional Community Governance in Kathmandu Valley TBD
64. Shreedhar Pokhrel
Lecturer, Pokhara University, Nepal
The Effect of Capitalism on Marriage TBD
65. Shuva Raj Ranabhat
Tribhuvan University/The University of Texas at El Paso
Construction of Whiteness in Jamaica Kincaid’s Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya TBD
66. Snigdha Bhatta
Junior Associate, Unity Law Firm & Consultancy, Nepal
Traditional Knowledge in the Himalayas: A Call for an Exploration in Policy Discourse and the Need for a National Regulatory Framework TBD
67. Subhajit Debnath
Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, USA
Tradition, Law, Polity and Governance
vis-à-vis Dzumsas of Lachen and Lachung in Sikkim
68. Subhash Prajapati
PhD Candidate, Ethnomusicology, University of Washington
Traditional, Folk, Fusion and Confusion: Music and Change in Newar Community of Kathmandu TBD
69. Sudipta Ghosh
Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Abigail Bigham
Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Michigan, USA
Tom Brutsaert
Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, New York, USA
Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Genotypes in Relation to High Altitude Hypoxia Among the Tawang Monpa from Himalayan Mountains TBD
70. Suditya Sapcotta
PhD Candidate, Sociology, Sikkim University, India
Why Is There a Dalit Movement in Nepal and Not in Sikkim & Darjeeling Hills? TBD
71. Sunil Sapkota
B SC. Forestry, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan
Attitude, Behaviour and Knowledge on Snakes and Snakebite Management of Students in Snake Prone Area of Different Himalayan Nation (Nepal and Bhutan) TBD
72. Tashi Tsering Ghale
Independent Researcher
Himalayan Yak Herders: The Case of Dolpo Kchung-jhee TBD
73. Thomas Robertson
Executive Director, Fulbright Nepal
DDT, Dang, and Land Reform: “Backwards” Development in Nepal’s Western Inner Tarai in the 1960s TBD
74. Thomas Robert Zeller
MA candidate, Medical Anthropology University of Hawaii Manoa
Ingesting Instability: Opiate Addiction and Care in Urban Nepal TBD
75. Vijay Jayshwal
Teaching Faculty, Kathmandu School of Law;
Roshana Parajuli and Ankita Tripathi
BA. LLB, Kathmandu School of Law, Nepal
Right to Privacy Vs National Security, Law and Order: A Comparative Study of Constitutional Provision of Nepal and India TBD
76. Wai-Man Tang
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Realities and Aspirations: Kabaddi Players in Far-West Nepal TBD
77. Wayne Johnston
Head, Research Enterprise and Scholarly Communication, University of Guelph Library, Canada
Back to Nepal: A Canadian Perspective TBD
78. Yoko Ishikura
Independent Researcher
In The Name of Children’s Rights: Rethinking The Rhetoric of Schools as Zones of Peace and Prohibitions on Student Involvement in Party-­‐Based Activities in Nepal TBD
79. Youba Raj Luintel
Associate Professor, Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
The Expanding and Consolidating ‘Middle Class’ in Contemporary Nepal TBD
80. Young Hoon Oh
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Department of Religious Studies, University of California, USA
Transregionalism, Hierarchy, and Belonging Dynamics in Himalayan Mountain Tourism TBD
81. Zsóka Gelle
Independent Researcher
Tibetan Sources on the Political and Religious Contacts Between Tibet, Yolmo and the Kathmandu Valley in the 17-18th Century TBD


Panel: Healing, Ritual and Belonging: Explorations of Christianity in Nepal
Panel convener: Victoria Dalzell, Independent Scholar (adjunct teaching faculty at multiple colleges and universities in Southern California, USA)
Chair: Lauren Leve, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Discussant: David Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology, Fellow of All Souls College, and Head of School of Anthropology and Museum Studies, Oxford University, UK

Panel Abstract: Even as a historically Hindu kingdom, Nepal’s religious landscape has never been monolithic. Christianity, too, has a history within Nepali society. Christians reportedly constitute only 1.4% of Nepal’s population, making it a religious minority. While this community remains small in absolute numbers, its exponential growth over the past seventy years has drawn the attention of Nepal’s wider community as well as academics. Explanations for this growth are usually limited to stories of foreign missionary activity. Recent church bombings and arrests of professing Christians have framed Christianity as a foreign entity, questioning whether this community is indeed part of Nepali society.

Yet these common tropes do not fully explain Christianity’s presence in Nepal: there is not enough foreign missionary influence to entirely explain its rapid growth, and the continued (and sometimes new) poverty of many Christian Nepalis makes stories of conversion for material gain questionable. While scholars have begun to write or speak about Christianity in Nepal, the voices of Christian Nepalis themselves are noticeably missing from many of these studies.

For these reasons, this panel explores Christianity in Nepal in ethnographic terms. We examine how multiple generations of Christian Nepalis from diverse ethnic backgrounds shape distinct faith communities in a newly secular state. Using narratives of Christian conversion and ethnographic analysis of Christian religious life, we question common tropes with the voices of Christian Nepalis themselves. We draw upon debates within the anthropology of Christianity to demonstrate how studying Christian Nepali communities can contribute to current academic discourse on society, ethnicity, and religious practice in Nepal.

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Paper 2: Continuity and Rupture: A Catholic Perspective on Christian Conversion in Nepal
Author: Guillaume Boucher
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal, Canada

Paper Abstract: The anthropology of Christianity has initiated a debate around conversion, on whether it must be considered in terms of continuity or radical break with the past. This presentation will examine Catholic conversion in a Hindu context and question this continuity/break dichotomy. I will draw on a field study conducted over a one-month period, in a parish of Nepal’s Tarai. While living in the Presbytery adjunct to an apostolic school, I conducted formal interviews and informal conversations with the parish priest, his auxiliary, their ecclesiastical visitors, and the neighbouring Indian missionary sisters. I also participated in the local daily Catholic ritual life. The data collected will be used to argue that both continuity and break occur.

As Catholicism acknowledges the local supernatural world and allows the inculturation of some pre-conversion ritual practices (such as Baha parab, in the Santhal community of the parish priest, and Pasni, in the Newar community to which one of the students of the apostolic school belongs), it does not initially look for a radical break with the cultural environment where it seeks to take root. However, Catholicism introduces some breaks in the convert’s ethos, and asks a new religious agency from its adherents, as will be shown when we examine the implantation of the religion in the priest’s parish and the process leading to baptism. The ideal of being a ‘Good Catholic’ represents a new personhood: converts are expected to develop an ‘awareness’ and priorities that should enable them to avoid the ‘social evils’ afflicting their villages, and thus promote a new self-definition which is no longer defined by an ‘interiorized inferiority complex’.

Rather than converting to an exclusive and communal religious community, Catholics are still “[I]ntegrated into social systems of caste and participat[ing] in shared popular religious culture with their Hindu neighbours” (Mosse 2006:108). While selective inculturation may reject certain local cultural practices, the ideal pursued is not a total rupture with the local social environment, but rather a reinvestment in it, through the transformation of character by which a successful Catholic conversion is measured.

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Paper 3: “Our God is Not a Foreign God”: Ritual Music Practice and Tharu Ethnicity Within Western Nepal’s Christian Community
Author: Victoria Dalzell
Affiliation: Independent Scholar (adjunct teaching faculty at multiple colleges and universities in Southern California, USA)

Paper Abstract: In Nepal, ethnicity is often constituted through ritual practice. If ritual participation is a key way of exercising membership in an ethnic group, how might Christians—specifically Protestants, who no longer participate in many community rituals—demonstrate their belonging in ethnic communities? In this paper, I argue that re-ritualization, or modifying traditional songs and dances to fit within a church context, is one way that Christian Nepalis continue to exhibit distinct ethnic identities within a multicultural Christian community. I examine two Christian Tharu case studies: performing the huri nac (a Kathariya Tharu song and dance genre) at interchurch events, and arranging an original, Nepali-language hymn as a maghauta nac (a song and dance genre performed during Tharu celebrations of Maghi). The first performance contends that Tharu religion can comprise of more than one religious tradition, challenging essentialist narratives of what Tharu religion should be. The second performance declares that Christian Nepali practice is wide enough to encompass Tharu cultural signifiers. By re-ritualizing these Tharu music genres, Christian Tharus expand the definition of what it means to be Tharu. I draw on my ethnographic research in Tharu communities (Christian and otherwise) in Kailali and Dang districts, which ranged from attending church events, seasonal music competitions and community festivals, to interviewing lay men and women as well as pastors and other church leaders. Discussing the musical choices of these Christian Tharus allows me enter the conversation about indigenization within the anthropology of Christianity. Following the work of Zoe Sherinian (2014), I demonstrate how indigenization is not a top-down, one-time event, but a series of negotiations across generations of Christians.

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Panel: Nepal’s Complex and Contested ‘Transition’: Discussion from the Margins
Panel Convener: Sangita Thebe Limbu, Research Fellow, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Chair: Pratyoush Onta, Martin Chautari
Discussant: Bhaskar Gautam, Martin Chautari

Panel Abstract: This panel will draw from the ongoing research,” Borderland brokers and peacebuilding in Nepal and Sri Lanka: War to peace transition viewed from the margin”. We aim to discuss some of the underlying factors that have emerged from the fieldwork which explains war to peace transition in the context of Nepal. In three different papers we aim to discuss the prevailing understanding of contested war to peace transitions in Nepal with a view to improving statebuilding and peacebuilding interventions in post-war contexts.

While we are concerned with understanding unfolding processes of change, it is important to emphasise that war to peace transitions are as much about continuities as transformation: the legacies of the pre-war and wartime periods live on into ‘peacetime’ and binary distinctions between ‘war’ and ‘peace’ fail to capture the complex realities of contested post war moments. Post-war politics can be seen as the continuation of war by other means and post-war transitions are processes of change that are neither linear nor necessarily peaceful, characterized by moments of rupture or punctuated equilibrium. Vested interests and conservative forces may block efforts to transform underlying conflict dynamics. Post war politics involve very high stakes – these are times of high opportunities but also high costs; as such they are ‘charismatic moments in politics’ when the rules of the game are up for grabs and new coalitions and political settlements can rapidly emerge. Democratic politics often increases the volatility and unpredictability of such periods, as elections unsettle political settlements and coalitions.

Whilst war has ended in Nepal, violence continues to play a significant role in politics and everyday life.  The army in Nepal, continue to have a salient political role even though monarchy is abandoned and a republican Nepal is at place. We see different forms of violence linked to different actors and goals e.g. making claims on the state (Madhesi violence). This has led to new forms of movements in Nepal such as Madhesi movement, Tharu movement etc. Further, one can also observe the mutation of violence linked to new insecurities or opportunities in the post war period – for example the growth of criminal violence in Tarai and discomfort in owning 2015 constitution of Nepal. In this context, new intermediaries have emerged and are seen important in these times who can build legitimacy for themselves by exhibiting a capacity to mediate and manage violence, conceptualize issues and finally advocate for the same. Eventually, they formulate political issues to be negotiated both centrally as well as at the margin.

Borderlands are central to fragile and contested negotiations and are at the heart of discussions around the role of the state establishment, political representation and the distribution of development resources. And thus, through the proposed panel, we aim to use borderlands or marginal spaces as the primary vantage point to interrogate the political, social and economic dynamics of post-war stabilization and reconstruction, and how that in turn, constitutes and (re) produces power relations and political settlements at national level.

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Paper 1: Socio-Political Production of Borders without Borderlands: Case Study of East West Highway in Nepal
Author: Sujeet Karn1 and Sohan Prasad Sha2
Affiliation: 1Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari; 2Researcher, Martin Chautari

Paper Abstract: There has been a growing interest in South Asia to study national borders embedded in unpacking socio-political relations, territories as a centralized political organizations, integration of the nation along with regional and specific localities. The paper tries to explore how Nepal’s Southern frontier (Tarai/Madhes) is negotiated in the everyday life. One aspect of the study has been to understand the dynamics of India-Nepal borders so far. However, there has been less study on the East-West highway of Nepal except few discussions on how the coloniality is managed, integrated into the nation and thereon to build the economy (Rankin et al., 2017). The paper not only extends the idea but also draws from the new ethnographic data and historical archives from borderland project based at Martin Chautari (MC). The theoretical underpinning of this paper will be based on interdisciplinary approaches like Science and Technology Studies as well as Infrastructure studies.  The paper intends to relax the ‘methodological nationalism’ that assumes the nation-state borders evolves in a natural context as its ‘given’ per se and, however, to argue that it is ‘artificially’ managed. Not only the India-Nepal border but the case of East-West highway will be discussed in particular to examine the processes through with borders within borderlands evolving in Nepal.

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Paper 2: Political Mobilisation and Borderland Brokers in Nepal’s Tarai
Author: Sujeet Karn
Affiliation: Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari

Abstract: Drawing upon fieldwork from a two year research project entitled ‘Borderlands, brokers and peacebuilding’ this paper examines Nepal’s post war transition focusing on shifting centre-periphery relations, with particular reference to a provincial town, Rajbiraj in the southern Tarai borderlands. The paper aims to develop a ‘borderland biography’, as this provides an interesting lens and vantage point for exploring key debates about sovereignty, power sharing and state legitimacy, that rose to the fore during Nepal’s conflict and have continued, sometimes violently, during the post war period. By doing so it eschews simplistic temporal divisions between pre-war, war-time and post war.

The biography of Rajbiraj seeks to explore in detail, shifting centre-periphery power relations in the post war period, as the town and wider region, became a centre of political mobilisation for the Madeshi movement. It examines, through life history material, the role of political brokers in Rajbiraj. It shows both the subnational and transnational dynamics of political mobilisation and claim making, and it also seeks to highlight the ambiguity of brokers -they simultaneously extend and place limits on sovereign power; they manage and mediate conflict, but engage in violent mobilisation; they are both the purveyors of patronage, and advocates for radical political projects. These borderland brokers operate in an ecology of constraint and opportunity, and they provide an important lens for exploring the state ‘at its limits’.

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Paper 3: Post War Reconstruction, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Everyday Life: Case Study of Bardiya
Author: Sangita Thebe Limbu
Affiliation: Research Fellow, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Abstract: This paper aims to explore contested and complex post-war transition processes following the end of Maoist insurgency in 2006, taking the case study of Bardiya. As a district with the highest number of enforced disappearance of civilians, predominantly belonging to Tharu ethnic community, by the state security forces during the Maoist conflict period, Bardiya continues to remain a primary focal point in discourse around transitional justice in Nepal. In this paper, the focus will not only be on how transitional justice, an issue that is highly pertinent yet still unresolved, is understood and experienced by victims themselves. But also, how pre-war societal structures, memories and wartime experiences have all shaped post-war transition processes in Bardiya with particular focus on everyday livelihood negotiations. Drawing upon extensive ethnographic and historical data (collected as part of Borderlands project) on Dalla village, which is located in the Bardiya National Park’s buffer zone, this paper will provide an in-depth analysis on how the discourse around justice, reparation and state accountability are understood at a marginal space, and how those discourses are informed by and situated within increased political consciousness and everyday struggles of lives. Hence, the focus will not only be on political transition but also how social and economic transitions take place in post war setting.

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Panel: Re/Construction: Expertise, Politics, and Materiality in Nepal’s Ongoing Transformation
Panel Convener: Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada

Panel Abstract: This multi-disciplinary double panel showcases the work of scholars involved in the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council-funded Partnership Development Grant, “Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster Reconstruction: Construction, Finance, and Law as Sites of Social Transformation”. Led by Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia), the partnership includes scholars from anthropology, art history, economics, education, engineering, geography, law, planning, political science, and religious studies.

We explore the following questions: how do domestic professionals come to serve as mediators between earthquake-affected community members and institutional actors implementing reconstruction at the scale of local governance, including the Nepali state and international aid agencies? How are relations of power negotiated at the geopolitical level, and their material outcomes managed on the ground? How are worldviews and practices reshaped along the way for all involved—at local, national, and global levels? How do these interactions intersect with existing pre-earthquake formations of expertise and resource concentration in the engineering profession and construction industry, for example? To what extent does “reconstruction” differ from pre-earthquake patterns of “construction”; in other words, how do we situate the present moment within the longue durée of development and transformation in Nepal over the past several decades? How does the post-disaster experience in Nepal compare with that of other countries in the region?

Each presentation responds to one of these questions in detail, but also links its analysis to the other questions posed. We foreground the roles and potential of domestic expertise and local governance in disaster response—linking this knowledge to literature on international expertise and geopolitics in shaping humanitarian and governmental responses. We situate our inquiry within a critical interdisciplinary social science framework that is also in self-reflexive conversation with scholars and practitioners from the relevant professions themselves. This integrated approach emerges from ongoing collaboration between the partnership members, which began with a September 2017 workshop. Presenting the next stage of our work at the July 2018 Kathmandu conference will enable us to share our research with a broader audience of scholars, and incorporate feedback as we further develop our inquiry over the remaining two years of the project timeline.

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Chair: Cameron Warner, Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University, Denmark
Discussant: Philippe Le Billon, Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada

Paper 1: Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-conflict, Post-disaster Reconstruction
Author: Sara Shneiderman
Affiliation: Associate Professor in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada

Paper Abstract: This paper provides an introduction to the project’s overarching analytical framework by exploring the keywords of “expertise”, “labour” and “mobility” in Nepal’s ongoing reconstruction process. In Nepal, as elsewhere, seismic and political transformations are entangled with trajectories of mobility shaped by local and transnational labour markets. Families who once would have built their own homes are now required to draw upon the professionalized expertise of engineers if they wish to qualify for government reconstruction subsidies. They are also lacking domestic labour power due to high levels of rural out-migration for wage labour—a pattern that accelerated through the conflict period and was well-established by the time of the earthquakes. At the same time, a cadre of government employed domestic technicians is now migrating into some of the most remote reaches of a country long characterized by precarious infrastructure, challenging topography, and hierarchical patterns of social exclusion. With reference to my ongoing work in Dolakha district, I consider what these multidirectional flows of people —and the forms of expertise that come and go with them—tell us about the relationships among expertise, labour and mobility as vectors of social transformation in places where post-conflict and post-disaster processes of restructuring and reconstruction intersect.

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Paper 2: Chains of Exploitation: Skills, Solidarity and Survival in Kathmandu’s Urban Construction Industry
Author: Dan Hirslund
Affiliation: Associate Professor (under review), Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Paper Abstract: This paper investigates labor dynamics among workers in the construction industry in Kathmandu. Based on 6 months fieldwork in 2016, during a slump in the construction industry before the pick-up of earthquake reconstruction, I investigate the difficult situation construction workers faced without social security and only their networks to rely on. Being for the most part migrants, laborers in the construction industry depend entirely on their networks for survival in the urban fabric. I trace the difficult conditions for labor solidarity in a context where construction work depends on hierarchical subcontracting and divisions of skills. I argue that this creates durable fissures between groups of workers, which I suggest can be understood as chains of exploitation.

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Paper 3: Untangling the Technology-society Knot: An Engineer’s Social Scientific Observations of the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Process in Rural Nepal
Author: Bishnu Pandey
Affiliation: Faculty, Civil Engineering, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada

Paper Abstract: This paper considers how earthquake housing technologies emanating from engineering theories have met with the social realities of rural villages in the process of reconstructing houses hit by the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. The scale and urgency of the process where several hundred thousand of houses belonging to individuals in villages need to be constructed within a short time with direct involvement of state creates an unprecedented interface between technology and society. This is best exemplified by the inevitable interaction between engineers and rural community members. While engineers who work in villages become the vehicle of the techno-legal regime established by the state through building codes and construction compliance guidelines, rural residents never subjected to such regulation and technological prescriptions in the past have a hard time integrating them into their life styles. The incompatibility is aggravated by the fact that engineers are hardly trained in social needs, constraints and communication; the government guidelines do not necessarily address the local context; and there is a lack of trained craft persons who actually translate the guidelines into actual implementation. I observed these challenges during my yearlong engagement as an engineer in the reconstruction of houses in rural areas and documented the perspectives from both engineering and social scientific perspectives. The paper also explores potential ways out: how these knots in the technical-social interface can be untangled and straightened with proper understanding of how different forms of expertise in reconstruction would and should work in tandem.

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Chair: Nabin Rawal, Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Discussant: Katharine Rankin, Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada

Paper 4: The Geopolitics of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Nepal
Author: Dinesh Paudel1 and Philippe Le Billon2
Affiliation: 1Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA; 2Professor, Department of Geography & Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Canada

Paper Abstract: This paper seeks to contribute to geopolitical economy debates through an examination of some of the ‘aftershocks’ of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. Using a critical geopolitical economy perspective, we mobilize concepts of disaster capitalism, geo-politics, and geopolitical assemblages attentive to materialities to examine the discursive and material dimensions of some of the regional and domestic reconfigurations that characterized post-earthquake reconstruction. We first briefly review the literature on disaster capitalism and the political aftershocks of ‘natural disasters’, and elaborate on some of the ‘material’ dimensions within geopolitical and geoeconomic logics of power. We then briefly present the geopolitical economy of postearthquake reconstruction in Nepal, with a focus on three major ‘moments’: the geopolitical mobilization of relief assistance, the accelerated adoption process of a new constitution and subsequent unofficial Indian blockade, and the re-articulation of regional infrastructure networks and Nepal’s inclusion into China’s Belt and Road Initiative. We then empirically investigate these aftershocks through a specific study of two Trans Himalayan corridors and associated hydropower building projects. We conclude with a discussion of the materialities of the geologics of power in the context of major geo-political shocks, in this case the assemblage of mountains, earthquakes, monsoons, regional rivalry, post-conflict multi-party democracy, and post-earthquake financial flows.

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Paper 5: Infrastructures of Social Repair: Insights from Northern Pakistan and Kashmir
Author: Omer Aijazi
Affiliation: Sessional Instructor, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia

Abstract: This paper examines linkages between social repair and reconstruction following natural disasters. In my long-term ethnographic research with marginalized disaster survivors in the Himalayan region of Northern Pakistan and Kashmir, I have come to understand social repair as a heuristic device to capture those genres of life which are crucial for attaining liveable presents and viable futures. In my current thinking, social repair captures those plurality of processes, embodiments and decision-making which enable disaster survivors to carve hospitable lives for themselves despite overwhelming structural constraints. Therefore, I understand social repair as tense, urgent and palpable. Infrastructure plays an important role in how social repair unfolds and is enacted. The role of infrastructure in facilitating or impeding social repair is particularly salient in the Himalayan region where the built environment is incrementally negotiated between local communities and the Pakistani state. In this paper, I seek to particularly examine two things: 1) how humanitarian and state-led reconstruction following the 2005 Northern Pakistan and Kashmir earthquake intercepted or interrupted everyday acts of social repair and 2) how disaster survivors sought to exceed these interruptions. I conclude that natural disasters are then not just “mere glitches in the reproduction of life” (Berlant, 2016) which warrant the replacement of broken infrastructure necessary for sociality to extend, but also revelatory spaces to understand forms of life emerging from within its very brokenness. In that sense, we can no longer afford to understand disaster reconstruction along separate domains of the social and the physical.

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Paper 6: State-Society Relationships After Nepal’s 2015 Earthquakes
Author: Jeevan Baniya
Affiliation: Assistant Director, Social Science Baha, Kathmandu, Nepal

Abstract: This paper discusses the broader impacts of the post-2015 earthquake responses on the state society relationships during relief, recovery and reconstruction phases. Drawing on the argument by Anthony Oliver-Smith (1996), that disaster affects fundamental features and grammar of earthquake-affected societies in several ways, this paper seeks to illustrate the impacts of the post-earthquake responses by the state and external actors and institutions in Nepal, and explore whether and how the responses have shaped the state-society relationships over the long-term. Also, it considers how the responses, or lack thereof, created conditions for new opportunities and battles in the larger society as Edward Simpson (2013) has argued, and considers what we can now see are the tentative outcomes. This paper is prepared based on information collected through semi structured interviews, focus group discussion and observation, during four different stages post-earthquake in a research site of Sindhupalchowk district.

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Panel: Ethnographies of Infrastructure: Roads, State Building and Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts
Panel Convener(s): Elsie Lewison, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada
Chair: Dinesh Paudel, Assistant Professor, Department of Sustainable Development, Appalachian State University, USA
Discussant: Sara Shneiderman, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada

Panel Abstract: This panel brings together papers presenting different facets of preliminary research findings from a five-year research project entitled Infrastructures of Democracy: State Building as Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts. The project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is comprised of several nested scales of collaboration. These include: core research teams based at the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and the Martin Chautari Research and Policy Institute; peer researchers based in the three district-scale research sites; and group of scholars and policy makers serving as collaborators in an advisory capacity.

Launched in 2015, Infrastructures of Democracy employs comparative ethnographic methods and deliberative public engagement to explore how people enact and participate in ‘democracy’ in contexts of governmental transition. Through a focus on infrastructure governance, the research explores how everyday practices at the sub-national scale constitute state building, and how they enable or constrain transformative social change. To do so, the project builds on the following core research questions: What are the political economic relations within which road building takes place? What competing governmental rationalities and practices are evidenced in road development processes? How are prevailing cultural politics reproduced or transformed in people’s everyday engagements with the local state?

The papers in this panel are intended to share—and solicit critical engagement with—preliminary research findings. This opportunity for feedback in an academic venue will be complemented with a policy oriented analysis workshop also planned for July 2018. Each paper presents a different set of findings and analyses that speak to different dimensions of the larger project’s core questions and reflect the authors’ varied perspectives and positionings. They include ethnographic insights from researchers based in district field sites—highlighting both common themes and context-specific divergences in everyday experiences and articulations of road development—discussions of shifts within governmental rationalities based on the analysis of policy and program documents, as well as reflexive methodological considerations for studies of state-citizen relations.

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Paper 1: Rural Roads Matters: Debate and Practice of Road Building in the Eastern Plains of Nepal
Author: Lagan Rai
Affiliation: Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Post Graduate College, Biratnagar (Tribhuvan University)

Paper abstract: The paper is written against the backdrop of two key trends in road development in Nepal. First, government and donor agencies have, since the inception of the modern development era, invested extensively in building ‘strategic roads’, or highways. Since the 1970s, under the auspices of regional planning, most of this investment has concentrated on North-South highways that were intended to diffuse population pressure in the hills by resettling hill migrants in the tarai’s fertile land. Second, rural roads, which are arguably more relevant to day-to-day life for the majority of the population than highways, have become a focus of development only after the democratic reforms of 1990. This paper focuses on rural road building in the southern plains of Morang district, which is a highly contested process embedded with the wider issues of regional politics, ethnicity, inequality, floods, displacement, migration, markets, real state business, corruption, remittance, industrialization, urbanizations and agrarian change. Ethnographic study of the road must capture these complex articulations—and the paper explores the methodological and theoretical challenges. By focusing on rural roads in the Tarai, the paper aims to [a] foreground the significance of studying rural infrastructure and [b] challenge hill-centric ideology of development and its representation of Tarai populations and livelihoods.

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Paper 2: The Politics of the Road: Ethnography of Charikot-Singati-Lamabager Road of Dolakha, Central Nepal
Author: Shyam Bahadur Kunwar
Affiliation: Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Paper abstract: This paper presents an ethnographic study of the Charikot-Singati-Lamabagar road of Central Nepal. Ethnographic details from the road offer insights into other domains such as government policies and practices, people’s participation in road development and its sociality. This paper engages the ethnographic method to explore the actors and institutions engaged in the politics of roads, place-specific road knowledges and the variability of road-society articulations. The paper is structured around two key research provocations. First, it explores the genesis of the Charikot-Singati-Lamabagar road including the road imaginaries that have shaped its development and contemporary geographies. Second, it addresses the multi-faceted interrelationship between the road and hydropower development projects. Bringing ethnographic insights to bear on these interrelated questions, the paper illustrates how changing labor relations associated with road development, road alignment politics, and road building practices are mediated by the materiality and imaginative dynamics of roads—and play a significant role in the mundane space of everyday life. I argue that beyond the technology of road infrastructure, we need to situate studies of road development in the multiple exigencies and power relations of everyday life at the grassroots level – the road is a political site.

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Paper 3: Corruption, Road Building and the Politics of Social Science Research in Post-Conflict Nepal
Author: Katharine Rankin1, Tulasi Sharan Sigdel2 and Elsie Lewison3
Affiliation: 1Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada; 2Director of Studies, Nepal Administrative Staff College, Nepal; 3PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada

Paper abstract: In the context of research on road development in post-conflict Nepal, we regularly hear about corruption—from planner-bureaucrats, from development practitioners, from policy makers and from residents of communities who become involved in road building in numerous capacities, as labourers, politicians, contractors, entrepreneurs and travellers. The mainstream donor grey literature on road development, moreover, is replete with an “anti-corruption” discourse that directly and explicitly informs practice. Rarely have we encountered a single issue that so animates a range of actors within the relational space forged by encounters among (donors,) states and citizens. This paper explores that rapidly transforming relational space in three ways, thus staking out a methodological approach to the study of state-citizen relations.

First, we consider procurement policies for road construction in agrarian districts where the state-citizen interface is most palpable, with a special focus on how that interface is represented and with what governmental objectives (discourse analysis of policy documents). Second, we examine the gaps between procurement policy and practice by comparing the first-hand accounts of contractors, laborers, and government bureaucrats involved in rural road construction—in order to reveal modes of citizen subjectivity and state governmentality that come into play (semi-structured interviews). Third, we investigate the state-citizen dynamics evident in a particular road tendering event (observation). Together these methods constitute a qualitative methodology oriented to research as praxis. They also highlight corruption itself as a relational construct requiring research to navigate a tension between on the one hand making visible the real, material harms produced by corrupt practices in specific place-time conjunctures, while on the other hand mitigating the risk that such accounts could end up pathologizing poor, rural populations and underwriting regressive reforms. We point to the need for ethnographically grounded, context-sensitive work, to build a robust analysis of the cultural politics of corruption, as a key site of encounter between citizens and the state.

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Panel: After the Earth’s Violent Sway: The Tangible and Intangible Legacies of Earthquakes in Nepal
Panel Convener: Michael Hutt, Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, SOAS, University of London
Proposed Chair: TBD
Proposed Discussant: TBD

Panel Abstract: The physical impact of a major earthquake is immediately visible. However, its longer-term impact and legacy are less apparent.  What kinds of political, cultural and social changes occur as a result of such a disaster? Which of these changes is temporary and which is permanent?

These papers emanate from the first year of a three-year research project on the tangible and intangible legacies of earthquakes in Nepal which commenced in April 2017.  The project is funded by the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund and involves a team of six researchers, led by Professor Michael Hutt of SOAS University of London in partnership with Social Science Baha in Kathmandu.

Our project is concerned chiefly with the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha and Dolakha earthquakes, but we are also looking at historical precedents and parallels.   We are examining public discourse to understand social and political change; monitoring and analysing ongoing efforts to reclaim and reinvent heritage; and studying archival material to identify the permanent marks left by previous disasters.  The legacy of the project will be an extensive open access digital library of material on earthquakes in Nepal that will form a unique resource for decision and policy makers as well as researchers for many years to come.

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Paper 1: The Nepali Poetry of the 2015 Earthquakes and Their Aftermath
Author: Michael Hutt
Affiliation: Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, SOAS, University of London

Paper Abstract: ‘Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836)).
Engineer Saab!/  For the earthquake of the heart / Poets and artists are what you need! (Bimal Nibha, 2012)

In their widely-cited analysis of post-disaster politics, Pelling and Dill (2010) identify three discursive moments in a typical aftermath. The first moment focuses attention on the unequal distribution of losses and can lead to a questioning of development failures and asymmetry in the social contract; the second draws attention to the mobilization of state and non-state actors to champion, direct, counter or capture evolving critical discourses; the third sees the discourse being institutionalized into policy.  They discuss the potential for a disaster to provide either a ‘critical juncture’ (a contestation of established political, economic and cultural power) or an ‘accelerated status quo’ (a successful concentration of that power).

This paper will survey the large number of poems published in Nepali within about three months of the 2015 Gorkha and Dolakha earthquakes.  Most of the poems considered will come from the bhukampa visheshank (earthquake special issues) of the literary journals Madhupark, Shabda Sanyojan, Shabdankur, Dayitva and Kalashri, with additional selections from the online newspaper Setopati and the literary journal Shivapuri Sandesh.  The paper will identify recurrent themes in this body of literature and attempt to assess the extent to which the poetry under consideration articulates a sense that in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes a ‘critical juncture’ was looming in the social and political history of Nepal. 

Pelling, Mark and Kathleen Dill 2010.  ‘Disaster politics: tipping points for change in the adaptation of socio-political regimes’ Progress in Human Geography 34(1): 21-37.

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Paper 2:  Missing Rani Pokhari: Conditions for Alternative Futures in a Monument Destroyed
Author: Stefanie Lotter
Affiliation: Teaching Fellow, South Asia Department, University of London, UK

Paper abstract: The loss of tangible heritage after the two major earthquakes of 2015 was immediately visible. However loss of heritage is not a definite category as destroyed monuments are not entirely absent but resonate. In this article I envision the missing as paradoxically present, foregrounding the future. Ruins leave room for interpretation as they refer to historical building practices and indicate as witnesses also past modification. With time the apparent original is not always easily established.

Missing a monument imprinted as memory or referred to in moments of nostalgia, relates the emotional dimension of heritage, one that can also be evoked by discovering new evidence, historical sources or even alternative pasts. Value given to particular heritage sites is not necessarily related to the value assigned to the same site before destruction. Loss can be realised in different ways by different groups, as it is not necessarily apparent.

In a monument, layers of the past with alternative interpretations predate those images imprinted in people’s memory. Alternative interpretation make tangible heritage part of a negotiated past, one that alike history is chosen and is not absolute. Studying material culture, one tends to forget the plurality of interpretation hiding behind the apparently ‘scientific evidence’ of archaeology backed by ‘historical facts’. When the past serves to imagine the future of destroyed monuments emotions can run high.

At Rani Pokhari we are confronted with many possible futures not only in the design of the pond and the temple but in the interpretation of a previously neglected site by many communities. Bhushan Tulsdhar created a powerful metaphor evoking the image of the 16th century pond turned through the use of concrete into something that looked like a ‘swimming pool deprecating its cultural and archaeological value’.[1] Dipesh Risal on the other hand conjured up an imagined past in his fictionalised account of the creation of Rani Pokari[2] while for others the drawing of Prince Waldemar of Prussia[3] from the mid-19th century suggests a definite past, in the design of a shikara style temple.

When we describe change and loss as the beginning of new possibilities we can turn the focus from the destruction of heritage buildings onto the interpretative plurality of possible futures. Loss has the capacity to renegotiate values, to open options and unravel alternative pasts as well as futures.

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Paper 3: Juddha Shamsher and the 1934 Earthquake
Author: John Whelpton
Affiliation: Honorary Research Associate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University

Paper abstract: In the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, Maharaja Juddha Shamsher’s handling of relief and reconstruction after the 1934 Bihar-Nepal quake was celebrated in some nationalist and royalist circles as a laudable example of self-reliance and his role at that time had already won him praise even from those taking a generally critical view of the Rana regime (e.g. Rishikesh Shaha, Modern Nepal: a Political History). However, given the contemporary circumstances, Nepalese accounts, including in particular reports in Gorkhapatra and Brahma Shamsher Rana’s Nepalko Mahabhukampa 1990, naturally reflect a pro-government stance. The information available in British records paints a rather different and perhaps more reliable picture, though it must be remembered that the British Minister in Kathmandu had to rely in part on information from interested parties within the Rana family itself. Juddha’s reluctance to accept offers of help from British India stemmed not so much from concern for self-reliance for its own sake as from the wish to insist on Nepal’s separateness from India. This was particularly important in view of the stance among many in the Indian nationalist movement that, despite Britain’s formal recognition of Nepal’s complete independence, the country was in pactice no different from the `princely states’ under British Crown paramountcy. Juddha’s later decision to waive repayment of reconstruction loans to civilians appears to have been made under pressure from other members of the family. The refusal to extend similar concessions to military personnel contributed to the discontent within the Nepalese army contingent serving in India during World War II which manifested itself at the time of their departure from Kathmandu and again in an episode of `serious indiscipline’ at Kohat in 1941.

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Paper Title: Taking Militarism to Market: Entanglements of Race, Caste, Gender in Marketing Nepali Security
Author: Amanda Chisholm1 and Hanna Ketola2
Affiliation: 1 Lecturer in International Relations, University of Newcastle; 2 Research Associate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle, UK

Abstract: Feminist scholarship on the global security has drawn our attention to the gendered and colonial logics that make certain global South communities more amenable to security work over others. Logics of martial race and military masculinities provide certain men with a comparative advantage or cultural dividend when participating in security industries. But what happens when militarism(s) are taken to market?  How is value assigned/embodied in security markets different from those serving in state militaries?

To answer this, we draw upon fieldwork from two Nepali militarised communities: Gurkhas, men from Nepal with over 200 years of military service to the British, and female ex PLA fighters.  Our analysis invokes Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital to explore how militarism, as social capital, becomes entangled with colonial histories, patriarchy and capital to permit certain communities within Asia to enter global private security markets whilst foreclosing others.

Using ethnographic fieldwork, we understand militarism as a global capital—something that is increasingly commodified and marketed globally through the rise of private military and security companies. Through the notion of cultural capital, we demonstrate the ways in which the capital of militarism is conditioned through gender, colonial histories, the patriarchal state and peacekeeping that typecast communities as ‘natural warriors’, in the case of Gurkhas, or ‘conflict affected women’ as in the case of ex PLA female fighters.

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Paper Title: Social Injustice and Emerging Subaltern Religiosity Nepal
Author: Amar BK
Affiliation:  PhD Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Abstract: Nepal has witnessed dramatic changes in the field of religiosity in the recent decades. One significant change is the flourishing of new religious and faith-based organizations, especially in urban areas. While most of the faith-based organizations have remained “elitists,” which appeal and serve the educated, middle-class, high-caste, and men, there is now an emergence of a distinct form of faith-based organization that appeals and serves the most marginalized sections of society such as women, the poor, and Dalits. Often characterized in the public discourse as irrational and superstitious and as Christianization for mere economic gains, subaltern religiosity hasn’t got serious attention in scholarly works in Nepal. The question of how subaltern religiosity reveals and addresses caste, gender, and economic inequalities and advocates equality and social justice, remains to be explored.

In this paper, I pursue this question through a case of a popular, faith-based organization, called Sachchai (meaning truth). Established by a young, not-well-educated inter-caste couple (Dalit man and Chhetri woman) seven years ago in Pokhara, Sachchai now has more than three dozen branches, some as far away as Kathmandu and Butwal. Women, mainly from Dalits and Janjatis, comprise more than ninety percent of the memberships of the organization. Sachchai fulfills the day-to-day needs of these marginalized individuals through the medium of Bible study, testimonials, and bhajans (singing and dancing). Although Sachchai requires its members to study the Bible—which temps one to label them as Christians—they claim that they are not Christians. Moreover, they claim that they are non-religious organization and that they respect all religions equally. Although the members study the Bible, they can continue to remain Hindus.

I will demonstrate, in my paper, that Sachchai attracts the marginalized people because it gives them a hope for their life; confidence and courage to tackle their every-day problems; knowledge and skills about how to live a good life; and a symbolic power, the power that comes from being associated the powerful text, the Bible, and from being the child of God. I will also demonstrate that in addition to solving the day-to-day problems and sufferings of these otherwise helpless individuals, which arise mostly because of their gender, caste, and poverty, Sachchai advocates an equal and just society, if not the society in which the oppressed people are favored more than others. In so doing, Sachchai borrows the ideas about equality and social justice from both the current Nepali public discourse and from the Bible.

My overall aim is to raise a larger question as to why this form of subaltern religiosity is emerging in Nepal, especially at this moment of time, when the country has just passed through big social and political movements and has made commitments to equality, social justice, and the upliftment of marginalized groups. The alternative vision and initiative for equality and social justice, I suspect, is the consequence of their frustration with the failures to meet the promises of the recent political and social movements.

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Paper Title: Livelihood Practices in Transnational Space (A Case Study of Family Left Behind in Nepal)
Author: Anchala Chaudhary
Affiliation: Prithivi Narayan Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: Migration has become an essential livelihood practice for individuals from both the poor and the relatively well-off households due, mainly to the processes of urbanization and globalization. This paper trace the impacts of migration on livelihood practices by drawing on the outcome of field studies in Garuda Municipality compromising multiethnic people of Eastern Nepal. The methodology for identifying informant is social survey followed by in-depth interview followed by semi-structured questionnaire and time line interview, examining the variation among social, economic, educational and employment nature before and after the migration. This comparison shows considerable changes among livelihood practices adopted by migrants family. Migration involves a large network of social relations. These networks involve exchanges of salient ideas, practices, and resources not only among migrants and non-migrants but also within the migrants and non-migrants themselves. Migrants remit and support their family back home by remitting not only money but also a new culture that he/she encounter in the place of migration. These exchanges can be gauged in the daily activities of non-migrants left behind. The family left behind disengage themselves from traditional occupation such as livestock and cereal farming and engage in new cash generating activities such as stitching, embroidery, handicrafts, and so on. The stay-behind family especially, wives become almost solely responsible not only for raising and educating their children but also for managing household’s chores as well as performing activities that link the household with the world outside. Thus, migration provides ground for nurturing a woman’s autonomy, self-esteem as also to expand their roles as they take on additional non-domestic tasks.

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Paper Title: Contemporary Art of Nepal, Picturing a Nation, Performing an Identity
Author: Andrea de la Rubia Gomez-Moran
Affiliation: History of Art, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

Abstract: This thesis consists in the historical and critical analysis of the process of construction of Nepalese contemporary art and its different styles over the last centuries.

Departing from the hypothesis that it must be understood around the performative parameters of its traditional culture, where the piece of art is valued primarily as a guide to attain enlightenment and connect with the divine beign during the ritual process, contemporary art in Nepal is defined as a tool for a) to project the nation of Nepal and its cultural identity, as a way of tourist attraction and international income; and b) to project the idea of a modernized Nepal by the appropiration of Western aesthetics and styles as a symbol of distinction exclusively limited to the country’s elite.

Therefore, through the study of its diverse aesthetic currents and most relevant figures, this work proposes a revisionist perspective regarding the following approaches:

a) the analysis of the idea, and therefore the image, of Nepal, as a utopia generated by the need to define the nation towards the international world and the East / West dichotomy;

b) the analysis of the myth of Nepal as a round-trip game in which while the foreigner exoticizes Nepal, Nepal exoticizes the foreigner, while reappropriating this foreign gaze so as to establish its own identity

c) the analysis of cultural heritage as something focused on the creation of the newār artists of Kathmandu Valley, and the deliberate adaptation of such image to contemporary art as a symbol of “nepality” or indicator of the “brand” Nepal, and international mean of visual communication.

In order to establish what Nepalese contemporary art is, the structural methodology follows the scheme of a mandala as a fundamental basis. The convenience of this system is justified when highlighting that through it the ideas of time and space can be understood following a spiral, contrary to the historical linear comprehension, where the space-time concepts of “tradition” and “modernity” emerge as parallel ideas in Kathmandu Valley. Therefore, following this mandálica structure, this thesis is divided into the following aesthetic paths that encompass the contemporary art of Nepal:

a) The kisch paintings of Himalayan landscape and traditional culture of Nepal corresponding with its Shangri-La´s imaginary as souvenirs available in tourist areas such as Thamel, and made by the citrakar in response to international demand but following the paubhā´s traditional aesthetics.

b) The handicrafts made by the different ethnic groups of Nepal and touristized on the basis of solidarity idealisms and development aid, but hardly valued within the category of art as it does not correspond with the cultural heritage established in the Valley

c) The picturesque paubhā that adopts the aesthetics of British landscapism and painting as a new mode of divinity´s representation and contemporary devotional art, especially reclaimed by the Nepalese middle class.

d) The court portrait appreciated as a derivation of the picturesque paubhā by representing the king or prime minister as a divinity through western technique and aesthetics as a signifier.

e) The Paňcāyat art, as a national movement led by King Shah and through which Nepal is represented around the idea of “nepaliness” and nostalgia about its glorious past, while using Western avant-garde techniques and styles as indicator of modernity.

f) The irony and metaphor provided by surreal and abstract techniques understood as possible tools of subliminal criticism, although they apparently collaborate with the Paňcāyat system.

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Paper Title: Representing and Performing the Contested Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’: Virtualisation of the Public Sphere and the Aesthetics of ‘being Gorkha’ in South Asia
Author: Anup Shekhar Chakraborty
Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Political Studies, Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, India

Abstract: The backdrop of the discussion in this study is the native Nepali speaking people in India and their quest to cartographically chart their emic self-defined identity in a map called Gorkhaland in and around Darjeeling in the directional construct ‘North Bengal’ located in the Indian state of West Bengal. The phases of the demand for Chuttei Rajya (separate state) from Chiyasi ko Andolan (1986 Movement) and the current imbroglio (stretched from 2007 to 2017) though showing signs of peculiarities and particularities in terms of the movement, styles of leadership, political agency, participations etc., continues to showcase commonalities, connections, and continuations in the indelible question of identity of the people and its place.

The claims of belonging to martial race- ‘Bir Gorkha’ and linked ‘Gurkha/Gorkha/Gorkhey Identity (Chinari)’ has been strongly contested. ‘Being Gorkha’/‘Being Nepali’, ‘Feeling Gorkha’/ ‘Feeling Nepali’ is severely webbed and caged into experiential and existential paranoia. The virtualisation of the public sphere and the multifold media (both old and new), SMS Jokes, satire, cartoons etc., unleashes a virtual viral wave. The discussion in the paper by weaving across poetry, literary works by the Nepali speaking communities in India, select speeches of political leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement(s), recorded nationalist songs and music videos,[4] local plays such as ‘Bhanu ra Pala’[5], the ‘viral videos’ (2017) such as Seema Subeidi Shrestha versus Nepalese Gorkhas (and also Darjeeling Gorkhas) attempts to bring to the fore the complex politics of representations, performance and aesthetics of the contested claims to the Trans-Himalayan ‘Shared heritages’ of ‘Gorkha’ in South Asia.

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Paper Title: Social Perception, Media Representation, and the Policies of Female Labor Migration in Nepal
Author: Arjun Kharel
Affiliation: Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal

Abstract: Using Foucault’s conception of discourse (as “ensemble of rules” producing “truths” or “effects of truths”) as a theoretical framework, this paper explores the dominant discourse on female labor migration in the larger Nepalese society and its impact on women workers. Using data from interviews and newspaper archive, the paper specifically examines how women’s migration for work is perceived in the Nepalese society, how it is represented in the media, and how they jointly influence the policies of female labor migration in Nepal. Female migrant workers are generally perceived and represented in the media as “cheli” – daughters and sisters – who lack the ability to think and act independently. Independent female migration is discouraged due not only to the possibility of exploitation and abuses abroad, but also out of concern for the sexual “impurity” of female workers travelling to a foreign land. As women are considered the “daughters” of the nation, their sexual engagement abroad – with or without their consent – is also associated with national “dishonor.” The infantile view of women, along with the urge for “purity,” has contributed to perpetuate the discourse of female workers as the victims of trafficking. The portrayal of female migrant workers as “minor” and “victims,” rather than as citizens with rights, justifies the “protective” policies of the state, i.e. imposing travel bans on female migration, which in turn forces female workers to take the help of unauthorized channels for migration, making them even more vulnerable to abuses and exploitations.

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Paper Title: A Study on the Prevalence of Physical and Sexual Violence Against Returned Women Migrant Workers in Nepal
Author: Arjun Kharel1 and Ratna Shrestha2
Affiliation: 1Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal; 2Programme Implementation Manager, Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Nepal

Abstract: Violence against women migrant workers (WMWs) is an important yet largely understudied issue in Nepal. With surveys, in-depth interviews and focused group-discussions on returned women migrant workers (WMWs) and their husbands, children and parents in-law in Dhading and Rupandehi districts of Nepal, the study explores the prevalence of and contributing factors to violence against WMWs in their family. The study finds a high degree of physical and sexual violence from husbands among the WMWs. The rate of lifetime physical violence from husbands was highest among Dalit women and women above 35 years of age. The rates of both physical and sexual violence were lowest among women with secondary education or above. Compared to women’s education, husbands’ education appears to have an even a stronger role in reducing violence against women. The rates of both physical and sexual violence were lowest among the WMWs whose husbands had secondary or higher levels of education, and the rates of violence were highest among the WMWs whose husbands were illiterate. The study finds a positive relation between the number of children in the family and the likelihood of violence from husbands. Not having a son in the family did not increase the likelihood of physical violence against women from their husband. The rate of violence was much lower for women who only had girls (20 per cent) than for women who only had boys (39.3 per cent). A man’s engagement in extramarital affairs was likely to increase violence against women.

The study also finds the prevalence of social stigma relating to women’s labour migration to foreign countries as a contributing factor to violence against WMWs in their post-return phase. Analysis of survey and interview data with the husbands of WMWs reveals a strong positive relation between men’s feelings/experience of humiliation in society and their family due to their wife’s migration and their involvement in violence against their spouses. A larger number of women returnees also perceived a connection between their labour migration and violence by husband.

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Paper Title: Is it God Speaking? The Identity and Agency of Deities in the Western Himalayas
Author: Asaf Sharabi
Affiliation: School of Behavioral Sciences, Peres Academic Center, Israel

Abstract: In Indian western Himalaya the local gods function as gods-kings in a type of theistic rule. Among other things, this is exemplified by their ability to move from place to place, their judicial authority, and their royal mannerisms. In my lecture I will describe the conceptual and practical changes that have taken place over the past decade. These changes illustrate a process of transition from an identity in which the local Pahāṛī element is the dominant component, to an identity in which pan-Hinduism plays a more important role. These changes are part of a wider phenomenon of elasticity (both conscious and unconscious) regarding the identity of the gods (a goddess who has turned into a god, for example). This raises a question: who are the agents of change with regard to the identity of the gods? To this end I will focus on the various roles that make up the functional array of the gods (religious priests, mediums, administrators and so on). This leads me to the question: do gods have agency?

In many ethnographies the gods are a reflection of social structures, symbolize power relations or serve as a resource for individuals. From the point of view of those who are studied, however, the existence of the gods is undeniable and the same goes for their agency, in other words, their ability to act and change. The gap between the two viewpoints is narrowed in the religious experience of Indian Himalaya. Here the locals, who customarily speak to the local gods through mediums, are grappling with an epistemological problem – how can they be sure they are indeed talking to the gods?  Moreover, they do not ignore the manner in which society is present in the gods’ decisions. Through the concept of decentralized agency we can connect the ethnographic point of view with that of those who are studied.

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Paper Title: Dibya Upadesh and the Making of a Nationalist Gospel
Author: Avash Bhandari
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, History, University of Illinois, Chicago

Abstract: The Dibya Upadesh, purported to be Prithvi Narayan Shah’s final instructions to his successors before his death in 1775 CE, is perhaps the most popular, enduring, and contested political treatise in modern Nepali history. Even though the story behind the re/discovery of Dibya Upadesh remains disputed in some circles, it will be fair to say that the text has acquired the status of a nationalist gospel by the beginning of the 21st century. The injunctions from the texts are evoked time and again by politicians, political commentators and public intellectual alike to make sense of contemporary Nepali politics. The authenticity of this foundational text is still contested with some claiming that it is a later day invention used to legitimize the ascendance of Shah Monarchy (Maharjan 2071 v.s, Malla 2014.). The other set of authors have marshaled evidence to prove the authenticity of Dibya Upadesh as well as to assert its significance in modern Nepali history political as well as intellectual history (Pant 2070 v.s.).

Since its first publication in “Goraksha Granthamala” by Yogi Naraharinath, who incidentally is also credited for naming the text Dibya Upadesh, in 2009 v.s. as “Shree Paach Prithvinarayan Shahko Dibya Upadesh,” several editions of the text have been published by different editors. The revised second edition of the text was published in 2009 v.s. by Prithvi Jayanti Samaroha Samiti and was edited by Naraharinath and Baburam Acharya. The other notable edition is its Sanskrit translation and its rendering in metric Nepali by Nayaraj Pant published, in 2040 v.s. Dibya Upadesh was first translated into English by LS Baral in his doctoral dissertation titled “Life and Writings of Prithvinarayan Sah” in 1964. Four years later, Ludwig F Stiller published another translation of Dibya Upadesh in his book “Prithwinarayan Shah In The Light of Dibya Upadesh.” In this paper, I demonstrate how Dibya Upadesh has been published in various forms in different contexts, analyzing the content of the various introductions, translations, and commentaries to trace how interpretations of the document have evolved through time.

Furthermore, I will also show how a biography of a Nepali nationalist gospel helps us understand the making of Nepali nationalism, anxieties and power relations surrounding a particular kind of historical production and silences (Trouillot 1995). In this attempt, among others, I am following examples set by Richard H. Davis biography of Bhagvad Gita (2014) for Princeton Series on Lives of Great Religious Books, and Burton et al edited volume on ten influential books that shaped the British Empire (2014). As the paper will show, such exegetical approaches developed by other scholars are very useful in tracing the development of Nepal’s most important nationalist text and exploring truth claims made by historians and commentators of Dibya Upadesh.

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Paper Title: “We are also Gurkhas”: Changes in Gurkha Recruitment Policy and the Inclusion Discourse in Nepal
Author: Avash Piya
Affiliation: Aarhus University, Denmark

Abstract: Historically, the recruitment policies of the British Army had been highly non-inclusive to the extent that they had been biased towards certain ethnic groups within Nepal. Gurungs, Magars, Rais and Limbus, which the British had categorised as “martial”, have had a dominant position within the recruitment sector. Their dominance as British Gurkhas continues to this day as they make-up around eighty percent of the total new recruits each year. However, in recent years, the British Army have adopted a policy of ‘free, fair, and transparent’ recruitment, claiming to have moved away from the colonial classifications and preferences for certain kinds of recruits. This has led to the increase in the number of young men from various other ethnic groups to take up foreign military recruitment. A major claim by these groups was the need for inclusion and representation of these groups in the recruitment sector, which derived from the discourse of inclusion prevalent within Nepal.

A key actor instrumental in propagating this new policy were the training centres, which acted as ‘intermediaries’ in the recruitment process. With the decrease in recruitment intake and high competition among the training centres to attract potential trainees, some of the centres employed a strategy to expand their business potential. They organised marketing campaigns to attract new and potential trainees. They took cues from the inclusive debates within Nepal and the policy adopted by the British Army to assist with their cause. In doing so, they reached out to places that were historically not categorised as the heartlands of recruitment, and focused on groups that were historically not classified to become Gurkha soldiers. In this paper, I take the case of one of the training institutions in Pokhara, and the data presented here is from 11 months of fieldwork in Pokhara and Charikot between 2013 -15.

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Paper Title: Counterfactuals of Maoist War: An Economic Perspective
Author: Bishal K. Chalise
Affiliation: Research and Program Officer, Niti Foundation, Nepal

Abstract: With promulgation of constitution drafted by the elected representatives of people, the Maoist War in Nepal has completed a full circle. As the two-decades long political movement came to an end, it is worth exploring the economic impact it has had in Nepali society. The assessment of economic effect of the War holds merit as it has been attributed, to a large extent, perpetuation of the country’ underdevelopment after advent of democracy in early 1990s. Particularly, this paper aims at answering whether or not Maoist War in Nepal derailed the country’s path to economic prosperity.

However, we do not have luxury of creating experimental control that is necessary to compare the actual War to assess the outcome of the War. This is simply because we cannot undo the event and record what would have happened. We would never know what would have happened if there was no War in Nepal. Hence, one of the major contributions of this paper is to create scenarios alternatives to the event through counterfactual thinking.

In order to do so, this paper relies on growing methodological approach of counterfactual cases on social science literature. Counterfactual proposition and associated arguments are increasingly becoming central to analyze effect of socio-political events. This method differs to the comparison method in which two or more cases that ‘actually’ occurred are compared to assess the impact of a case-on-hand.

The aim is to link counterfactual analysis to causal sequences of possible events to reach to the projection or conclusion.  Specifically, the paper develops sufficient and necessary condition counterfactuals that requires minimum changes to the actual world and that can determine the generality of the conclusion.

The paper starts with brief discussion of the output measurement approach for the study. That is what economic prosperity entails and how we can measure in non-quantitative way. However, paper does not devolve much into comparing and contrasting alternative definitions of prosperity. Thus, rather than contribute to any conceptual wrangling, this study we shall say economic growth as proxy to societal prosperity, while acknowledging limitation of such definition.

The paper then discusses about the methodological approach of using counterfactual analysis in one-actual-case scenario and explains the issues concerning causal link between counterfactual scenario and inference of outcome i.e. economic prosperity. The section also discusses the alternative methodological approaches used for similar impact assessment studies.

Finally, paper makes inferences about the likeness of the impact by comparing the actual economic conditions with those of counterfactual scenario. The conditional validity of the such impact outcome is also discussed.

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Paper Title: Deviation or Devotion? A Supreme Court Verdict on Animal Sacrifice in Nepal
Author: Chiara Letizia1 and Blandine Ripert2
Affiliation: 1Professor, South Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Québec, Canada; 2CNRS Researcher, Ethno-Geography, Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, New Delhi, Centre for South Asian Studies, EHESS-CNRS, Paris 

Abstract: In November 2014, three Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions attacking the ‘Gadhimai Mela’ (a five-yearly mass animal sacrifice offered at Gadhimai temple in Bariyarpur, province n. 2) were filed at the Nepal Supreme Court.

In a 52-page verdict published in August 2016 that dealt with all three petitions together, the Supreme Court went beyond the Gadhimai Festival to discuss and condemn the practice of animal sacrifice in general.

This presentation is based on the examination of the legal documents (the petitions, the responses of the defendants, and the verdict), and on interviews with the parties (the petitioners, the respondents, the lawyers and the judge) and with Nepali animal welfare activists, conducted by Chiara Letizia and Blandine Ripert in May 2017.

The presentation will discuss the verdict, and in particular the court’s call for social progress in the name of modernity, its reasoning on whether animal sacrifice is a valid expression of (true) Hinduism, and its consideration for this practice deeply rooted in Nepali society.

The court papers and the interviews reveal opposing views of Hinduism: a reformist and textual conception versus a conception based on traditional practice and devotion.

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Paper Title: Intermarriage Between Madhesi Men and Pahadi Women in Southern Nepal
Author: Chudamani Basnet1 and Ratnakar Jha2
Affiliation: 1Assistant Professor Department of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi; 2Independent Researcher

Abstract: In South Asia, marriage is more than a contract between two consenting individual adults. It is often portrayed and practiced as a sacred institution and occasion. It brings together two families and close kin; sometimes even the whole communities are involved. Further, marriages are overwhelmingly endogamy in these caste-ridden societies. Traditionally and to a large extent in contemporary time, parents and close kin’s decision take precedence over individual choices and desires in the marriage process. In recent years, the traditional marriage practices, however, have been changing and the practice of “love marriage,” in which consenting individual adults play a major role in the marriage process, is increasing. The love marriage within the traditionally endogamous groups are less problematic. But when love marriage takes place across caste and ethnic groups, the family, close kin, and communities involved must negotiate a host of issues, including caste and culture. Based on interviews with intermarried couples, their close kin and the community members, this research examines the dynamics of love marriage between Madhesi men and Pahadi women in Southern Nepal. It argues that gender becomes the key area of contestation in these intermarriages in the eyes of the family members, close kin, and communities. But larger structural changes in culture and economy empower the younger generation. In the imagination of the younger generation, individual choices and desires triumph over the traditional values, generally upheld by the older generation. Consequently, even successful intermarriage couples must engage in complex negotiations with their parents and communities. Given that inter-ethnic relations between the Madhesi and the Pahadi communities have deteriorated in recent years in Nepal, the cases of intermarriage between Madhesi and Pahadi communities give a crucial insight into the changing dynamics of Nepali society.

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Paper Title: Domestic Violence in Nepal: A Discourse Analysis of the Research Publications of International Development Institutions
Author: Claire Willey Sthapit
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, University of Washington, USA

Abstract: Critical examination of international development discourses have shown that the norms and values of more powerful groups have often been upheld as the standard, while historic and current relationships of global privilege and oppression remain unrecognized. Knowledge produced about developing countries has been criticized as playing a key role in depoliticizing social issues and maintaining global hierarchies. Discourses related to gender-based violence have also been critiqued for their propensity to construct non-Western and non-white women based on their victim status, and to stereotype entire cultures as being violent toward women, even as men who are violent in the West are considered aberrations. Such constructions not only lead to discursive harm, but have been used to justify coercive action by already powerful groups, including colonization, wars, and the sealing of borders. In the contexts of international development interventions such discourses can lead to negative stereotyping and more restrictive interventions rather than interventions that recognize structural barriers and build on the strengths of the communities served.

Perhaps in answer to critiques of international development, global development institutions have increasingly promoted participatory approaches, particularly related to women’s empowerment. In Nepal, growing recognition of the issue of domestic violence is evidenced by the Domestic Violence Act (2009) and the government declaration of 2010 as “the Year to End Gender-based Violence,” including domestic violence. This study employs a discourse analysis methodology to examine current international development discourses through the case of domestic violence in Nepal.

The sample for this study consists of research publications produced by international development institutions that address domestic violence in Nepal. These were purposively selected through on-line searches using Google and the UN’s Kathmandu-based repository, perusal of major international donor websites, and the reference lists of sample documents. Documents were coded using qualitative software and targeted summaries of each publication were written. Within and cross-case analysis was conducted with an eye towards understanding the construction of domestic violence and the actors involved, as well as the ways in which sources and types of knowledge were ranked.

In these reports, hierarchies of knowledge are often set up which emphasize large scale surveys over qualitative assessments, global over local knowledge, and modernity over tradition. However, several of these reports also critique global social hierarchies. For example, they recognize the potential strengths of families and communities in Nepal to address violence, as well as some of the negative impacts of current global economic structures on families. Such moments of discursive resistance, which must simultaneously recognize and address domestic violence wherever it occurs, are highlighted as promising approaches for future development research, policy and practice.

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Paper Title: Nepal’s Federal Structure and Its Effects on Democratic Politics
Author: Dhana Hamal
Affiliation: Political Science Department, Alumna, University of Toronto, Canada

Abstract: Nepal’s federalism debate has taken many turns over the last decade. In particular, the discussions on ethnicity-based federalism has been a much contested one. Scholars in favor of ethnic federalism such as Mahendra Lawoti strongly argued that creating federations along ethnic lines is the only way to dismantle the status quo, and the centuries of prior regional and class/caste based exclusion to develop a strong democracy. Others such as Lovise Aalen & Magnus Hatlebakk, comparing Ethiopia’s case with Nepal, provided a “cautionary tale” about the use of ethno-politics and federalism demands that had real democratic sources but turn into an anti-democratic tool of party dictatorship. This paper discusses comparative work on Nepal’s democratic transition to explore competing views on democracy and federalism.

At the theoretical level, scholars have at times emphasized the anti-democratic features of federalism, in which the will of small regional states prevents large-scale political action by a national majority (Riker 1964). In part, this is the point – to empower localities or sub-groups against the larger majority. This approach has been challenged by Stepan, who argues that only some federalisms are truly “demos-constraining” and that developing countries (like Nepal) do not have to choose between greater democracy or greater ethnic or minority political rights on the other (Stepan 1999). More broadly, work on the ideal of “multicultural citizenship” or a “politics of representation” has helped to change how the concept of democracy is analyzed within political science, with major implications for the study of ethnic federalism (Kymlicka 1995; Taylor 1992; Young 1990).

In this paper, I focus on the extent to which democratization is strengthened or weakened by the creation of federal structures, especially when ethnic conflict or grievance is the driving force behind federalism. Using a comparative politics perspective, I will discuss the dynamics of federalism in developing countries like Nepal, in fragile affluent federations like the European Union, or within increasingly polarized federated states like the United States. The idea that federalism is a kind of cure-all for democratizing states has been challenged, as in work on post-Franco Spain by Omar Encarnacion (2001) that explores the ways that federalism has contributed to building a democratic society, but also failed to prevent violent ethnic conflict or separatist politics. Drawing on material I used for my master’s thesis about ethnic federalization as well as new research that has emerged since September 2015, I ask: What are the roles of regional, national, or ethnically-identified political parties since Nepal has adopted a federal system? In the end, I will propose a comparative politics methodology to study the effects of the new federal structure on democratization, as measured by several variables, in two different districts in Nepal.

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Paper Title: Shifting Imaginations: Contemporary Arts Education and Practices in Nepal
Author: Dipti Sherchan
Affiliation: Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois – Chicago, USA

Abstract: The contemporary arts scene in Nepal is an amalgam of numerous art forms, styles, and aesthetics – crossing the boundaries of traditional and modern gallery spaces while beginning to occupy public walls and streets – evident of the myriad regional and global influences and inspirations that it has undergone in the past few decades. This growth in “cosmopolitan” artistic practices and interactions in the field of arts has received a simultaneous increase in public interest and institutional investment as young people opt for undergraduate and graduate programs in arts either in Nepal or abroad. However, the institutional history of arts education program goes further back to the thirties prior to which there were no “formal” institutions to learn arts. In this paper, I am interested in exploring the intersections of institutional history and contemporary arts practices by tracing the development of the notion of “arts”, “aesthetics”, and arts education in Nepal. Specifically, I will be examining the historical archives on the first and the oldest art school of Nepal, Lalitkala Campus of Fine Arts, established in the 1930s under the Rana regime. The school used to be known as the Juddha Kala Pathshala (Juddhakala Art School) named after the then prime minister Juddha Shumsher Rana and eventually received its current name in the 1970s under the former late King Birendra Shah. Meanwhile, I will also be looking into more recent institutional developments in order to build a comparative understanding of the historical transformations. In addition, I will be engaging with some preliminary field interviews and conversations with various artists, arts educators, arts historians, as well as young students of arts programs in Kathmandu. A closer historical and ethnographic study of the institutional and educational lineages in the field of arts will be able to recognize the shifting imaginations and practices of arts and arts in Nepal.

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Paper Title: Vitality of language and religion among the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley
Author: Frederic Moronval
Affiliation: Research Laboratory Dylis, Normandy University, Rouen, France


Questions: Is Newar language (Nepalbhasa) decreasing and why? Is Buddhism decreasing among Newars and why? Is there an interdependence between these two processes?

Hypothesis: Newar language is decreasing, due to State language policy; Vajrayana Buddhism is decreasing, due to lack of competencies of its proponents, and is thus rivaled by Theravada Buddhism. The interaction between language and religion in this case is that Newar language and Buddhism have suffered and resisted together the oppression from the State policy of Nepal throughout the 20th century, and this solidarity continues today.


To evaluate the vitality and interdependence of language vitality and religion vitality, I have built up questionnaires and conducted interviews for field work on the basis of the approaches of three researchers:
EDWARDS, J. 1992, « Sociopolitical aspects of language maintenance and loss: towards a typology of minority language situation » in FASE, W., JASPAERT, K., KRONE, S. (éd.), 1992, Maintenance and loss of minority languages, John Benjamins, Amsterdam
FISHMAN, J., 2006, “A Decalogue of Basic Theoretical Perspectives for a Sociology of Language and Religion”, in OMONIYI, T., FISHMAN, J. (eds.), 2006, Exploration in the Sociology of Language and Religion, pp.13-25.
PANDHARIPANDE, R., 2006, “Ideology, authority and language choice – language and religion in Southa Asia”, in OMONIYI, T., FISHMAN, J. (éds), 2006, Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, Amsterdam, Philadelphia, J. Benjamins, chap.11

As for the understanding of the Newar cultural field itself, the obvious sources are Gerard TOFFIN and David GELLNER.

Introduction: research questions and hypothesis; methodology.
The vitality of Newar language (Nepalbhasa) in the Valley.
The vitality of Buddhism among Newars.
Awareness and reactions: where language and religion meet.
Perspectives for research, and perspectives for Newar policies of language and religion. 

Newari, the indigenous language of the Kathmandu valley, is considered by the UNESCO as an endangered language, and anthropologists like David Gellner observe the decline of the religious tradition professed by the Buddhist part of that people. These facts prompt us to wonder why and to which extent both the mother tongue and Buddhism are decreasing among Newars, and what, if any, is the causal relationship linking the evolution of these two cultural features. Our hypotheses are that the State policies are to be held responsible of the situation, and that revitalization actions in language and religion build on each other. For the purpose of our research, we have adopted the theoretical frame of what Omoniyi and Fishman wish to become a Sociology of language and religion, and we have resorted to typologies of minority languages, applying them to the religious domain as well. In order to verify these hypotheses, qualitative and quantitative data have been collected through questionnaires and field investigations, targeting a sample of speakers, believers, and actors of language and religion revitalization of the Buddhist Newar community.

It has been thus been confirmed that Newari language has suffered from the State former language policies. The generalization of the official language, Nepali, as the general language of education, has much contributed to the decrease of proficiency in Newari as a mother tongue among the three currently observable generations. On the other hand, the recent change in the political regime allows the manifestation of the interest in the transmission of mother languages, especially among Newars. As for Buddhism, it has entered a mutation process. Traditional Newar Buddhism has to operate its own mutation in order to synchronize with the changes of society and thus survive, but the process is slowed down by the weight of traditions. By contrast, since a century the Theravada Buddhist tradition from South-East Asia is taking roots in Nepal, and above all among Newars. Far from being seen as an exotic product, it fulfills a wish to get back to a Buddhist practice accessible to all and a philosophy taught indiscriminately, and to revive the long lost monastic institution. Moreover, Newari language and Buddhism having been prosecuted together during the first half of the 20th century, the memory of this shared fate is kept alive and sustains solidarity until today. Field investigations have revealed that most of Newari language promoters are Buddhists; reciprocally, among Newars the Buddhists are more concerned by the endangered situation of Newari, more willing to improve it, and to actually take action to that aim.

This comparison of language and religion vitalities in the Buddhist Newar group reveals the solidarity uniting these two phenomenons. This contributes to documenting the research on relations between language and religion. At the same time, it shows that it is relevant to apply evaluation tools of language vitality to the evaluation of religious vitality. Furthermore, it confirms the necessity we are facing to explore and conceptualize more the links between language and the social dynamics it often sustains but also depends on.

Keywords: Nepal, Newar, Newari, Buddhism, minority languages, revitalization.

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Paper Title: Normalization of Sexual Harassment: Route to the Masculinization of Public Space
Author: Gita Neupane
Affiliation: University of Hawaii, USA

Abstract: This study aims to analyze how women and men normalize their experience and understanding of sexual harassment that are deeply ingrained in the Nepalese cultural context of urban places and discusses its implications in the making of masculinization of public space and women’s compromised status and mobility. Data are drawn using surveys, qualitative interviews and ethnographic observation for over two years in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Although there are some fundamental differences between men and women reported in interviews regarding what counts as sexual harassment, their comments had one common meaning especially in the cases of verbal nature of harassment: sexual comments are a normal part of women’s life which women must learn to accept. This constitutes a normalization of sexual harassment in public space. The reasons for acceptance and normalization of harassment are also different for men and women. Therefore, the first part of this paper closely analyzes the way women normalize their experience of sexual harassment by accepting it as an unavoidable part of their life outside their homes. They regard it as a manifestation of institutionalized patriarchy that was largely inescapable. Such a normalization of harassment is constructed as an everyday masculine practice. And it is largely considered as a “normal” behavior of public life within the range of acceptable men’s deviance in a given cultural context.

The second part of the paper presents the way men normalize the harassment by portraying their self-involvement as a normal part of performing gender and acceptable heterosexual practice. Further, men naturalized such activities as natural characteristics of heterosexual relationships between men and women, or even heterosexual pleasure. It will closely show the way men normalize their acts by their denials, trivialization, and legitimization.

Finally, this study analyzes the implication of normalization on men’s and women’s lives differently. Since this does not come without a cost, it analyses the implications on the effects of such activities on women, while men largely failing to recognize this as a significant social problem. The analysis will show that the normalization of harassment conforms to traditional gender arrangements, beliefs and behaviors, and reinforces women’s sexual subordination to men in Nepali society.

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Paper Title: ‘Withdrawing from Politics’ as A Form of Agency: Women Ex-PLA Combatants in Nepal
Author: Hanna Ketola
Affiliation: Research Associate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, University of Newcastle, UK

Abstract: Feminist engagements with peace and conflict have increasingly focused on the question of agency – how gendered agency emerges in relation to peacebuilding and the various expressions that agency takes. Another prominent theme is a turn towards postcolonial theory – increasing engagement in postcolonial critiques of peacebuilding and employment of concepts such as hybridity. What remains under-explored in the feminist peacebuilding literature is the question of women’s political agency – what does ‘being political’ or ‘acting politically’ entail in the context of peacebuilding? Is women’s political agency necessarily tied with the capacity to resist or subvert regulatory gender norms?

This paper addresses the question of political agency by foregrounding stories of women who fought in the People’s Liberation Army in Nepal. I explore what is at stake when women ex-PLA fighters ‘withdraw from politics’ in the post-conflict context – what is at stake in ‘being tired of politics’? I explore the move away from active involvement with the party and from the public sphere as a possible site of political agency. I show how withdrawing from politics can be understood as a set of practices through which the political subjectivity of ‘being an ex-PLA’ is pursued in relation to the party as well as in relation to practices of peacebuilding.

Through this move the paper intervenes with the narrative of ‘return’ that persists in policy discourses around gender and peacebuilding: whilst women exercise a form of agency through participating in war, agency becomes ‘lost’ or ‘constrained’ when gender norms are reinstated in post-conflict. In making this intervention the paper contributes to the emerging research agenda on gender and politics in post-conflict Nepal, opening new connections to postcolonial feminist anthropology and feminist critiques of peacebuilding.

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Paper Title: Migration Narratives in Nepali News Magazines, 1990 – 2017
Author: Jacob Rinck1 & Dwarika Thebe2
Affiliation: 1PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, USA; 2MA, Economics, Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: Recent years have seen a proliferation of scholarship on the causes and effects of labor migration from Nepal to Malaysia and the Gulf states. One aspect that has as of yet received relatively little attention, however, is how these new kinds of mobilities have been discussed and reflected in different public spheres in Nepal. This paper aims to contribute to closing this gap in the literature by analyzing how debates on migration to the Gulf and Malaysia emerged and evolved in Nepali-language news magazines between 1990, when numbers of migrants were still relatively small, and 2017, when labor migration had become a broad-based social phenomenon. By examining the public cultures through which labor migration is recognized and engaged with, we seek to contribute to understanding the broader cultural implications that labor migration has had in Nepal over the past twenty years. The paper builds on a survey of migration-related articles in four weekly and bi-monthly Nepali news magazines published between 1990 and 2017.

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Paper Title: Perspectives on Religious Identity, Caste, and Culture for Bhutanese-Nepali Refugee Families in the United States
Author: Kathryn Ruth Stam
Affiliation: Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica, New York

Abstract: Starting in 2008, Bhutanese-Nepali refugee resettlement began to the United States, with approximately 60,000 individuals having moved to American cities since that time. The question of how to maintain Nepali and/or Bhutanese identity is at the forefront of dialogue by the majority of Bhutanese-Nepali refugee families, whose identities are complex, counterintuitive, and based in part upon country of birth. The community follows a diverse set of beliefs and behaviors related to which traditions (for ex., celebrating festivals, cooking cultural foods, childrearing practices, learning dance, etc.) are important for each group and how their family members should maintain them. This dialogue is complicated by various factors including religious affiliation, former caste membership, and level and type of contact with local American people. The research question of interest is, 1) What are Bhutanese-Nepali refugees’ perspectives on family identity as it relates to religious identity, caste, and ideas about cultural maintenance and change? 2) How does this understanding compare across different types of families? 3) How prevalent is the role of caste in refugees’ decision-making about cultural maintenance and change?

This paper presents the results of an ethnographic study of five extended families who live in a community of 400 Bhutanese-Nepali refugees who were resettled to a small city in upstate New York between 2010-2017. The author’s focus on comparison of the family units makes this study unique. The sample is a diverse group in terms of religion and is representative of the larger group of Bhutanese-Nepalis in the city. Two families are Christian, two families are Hindu, and the other family is Buddhist. Membership in religion can affect decisions about cultural traditions and their desirability, as can former caste membership that affects many relationships within the community. In some families, some individual members worship different religions or attend different churches from their siblings or parents. In all five families, men and women share responsibilities but play different roles in terms of helping the younger generations maintain Nepali and to a lesser degree Bhutanese culture.

Theoretical considerations include the consequences of forced migration across social class and caste and the tensions between maintenance of cultural traditions and the desirability of cultural adaptation to the host culture. In addition, there can be either added advantages or vulnerabilities due to former caste membership that nonetheless endures in the new environment, and choices about religion. This study is promising for its potential contributions to ethnographic study of Nepali peoples in the diaspora, refugee studies, and applied anthropology. Many of the patterns seen in the Bhutanese-Nepali communities mirror the social problems also found in the early stages after arrival by Southeast Asian refugees groups since the early 1980s, and the more recent conflicts and expulsion experienced by ethnic minorities such as the Karen from Burma (Myanmar).

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Paper Title: Ambivalence Denied or Unrecognized? A Preliminary Study on Some Governmental Brochures in the Early Panchayat Period
Author: Katsuo Nawa
Affiliation: Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan

Abstract: The Japan-Nepal Society Collection, now owned by the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo, includes hundreds of books, periodicals and brochures obtained in Nepal between 1960 and 1965 by Mr. Tatsu Kambara, who was then affiliated with Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This sub-collection includes various brochures, both in Nepali and in English, published by various sections of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal in early and mid 1960s to propagate King Mahendra and his new policies. Photographs and/ or illustrations are skilfully utilized in some of them to visually represent the history, status quo, and future of the Kingdom of Nepal during the early Panchayat period, as were understood or imagined, and selected to be propagated by the bureaucrats at that time.

A 24-page color brochure titled hāmrā rājā śrī 5 mahendra (Our King His Majesty Mahendra), for instance, depicts not only the early life of the King and his activities in the 1950s both within and outside the country but also how and why the king introduced the new Panchayat system, using not only explanations by words but also by cartoons and photographs. In this brochure, the “autocratic” Rana regime is represented by one image of torture, while the evil of party politics is portrayed as three demons haunting people: bhraṣṭācār (corruption), sāmpradāyiktā (communalism) and arāstrīyatā (anti-nationalism). On the other hand, Nepali subjects joining the Panchayat Raj were depicted in a much simpler and more straightforward manner than the pictures discussed in Stacy Pigg’s modern classic “Inventing Social Categories Through Place” (1992). No ambivalence (cf. Onta 1996) seems to exist within this brochure, though for the eyes of more than fifty years later these visions might look almost utopian, due to the gap between what is depicted there and what His Magesty’s Government of Nepal confronted then.

This paper is a preliminary re-investigation of these brochures which justify the Panchayat regime against two regimes in the past: the Rana regime and the short-lived multi-party democracy under the 1959 Constitution. Basically relied on methods widely used in linguistic anthropology and critical discourse analysis, I analyse the rhetoric they employed to criticize the Rana regime, (“caste”-based) 1854 (Muluki) Ain, and multi-party democracy, and show what they tacitly presupposed and what they hid, most probably intentionally. I argue that their attempts to deny ambivalence in the official discourse of the [then] new Nepal, together with their implicit and sometimes insubstantial premises on Nepal and Nepali subjects, created various unintended connotations within their texts and pictures. I also point out several subtle differences between discourse in English and Nepali brochures.

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Paper Title: Trans-himalayan Commercial and Cultural Interactions: A Case Study of Colonial Darjeeling Himalaya
Author: Kishan Harijan
Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of History, Presidency University, Kolkata

Abstract: The history of trans-Himalaya and Darjeeling constitutes an important chapter in the extension of British rule. The main motive of this paper is to document the historical process and development of trans-Himalayan trade and culture and role of Darjeeling Himalaya in it. Trade and Commerce brought about a great transformation in the economic landscape, demography and the entire socio-economic pattern of the Eastern Himalaya.  Trade through the Himalayas is a truly international commerce which affected important political and commercial relations between the Himalayan kingdoms such as Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Tibet and the British. Darjeeling as a commercial centre attracted attention of mercantile community and became the Entrepot centre and the market of the Eastern Himalayas. Economic development was accompanied by a growth of its population. Darjeeling became the hub for trans-cultural encounters, cultural interactions and pluralism. Nepali became the lingua franca in the Darjeeling hills.

I focus on trans-Himalayan commercial and cultural interactions concentrating on certain parameters such as trade and culture revealing the vital role of Darjeeling Himalaya in it. The paper will outline the trans-Himalayan commercial and cultural relationships taking the case study of the colonial Darjeeling Himalaya and analysing the synthesis of indigenous and colonial systems promoting commercial liberalism and cultural pluralism in the region. The paper discusses the economic and cultural mobilities and networks, modes of economic and social organization, cultural diversity and cultural integrity in the region.

Eventually, the work also tries to present an analytical study in the connection that how trade brought cultural pluralism in Darjeeling. Merchant and trading communities such as the Bhutias, Sherpas, Nepalese (Newars), Tibetans, Marwaris, Biharis, in general began to migrate to this area and settle here in order to set up their business enterprises. Culturally, Darjeeling became a ‘melting pot’ and ‘ethnological museum’. So, trans-Himalayan trade brought ‘Cultural Pluralism’ in the Darjeeling Himalaya which contributed to the liberal and cosmopolitan identity of the hills.

Keywords: trans-Himalaya, Darjeeling Himalaya, entrepot, trade, culture, cultural pluralism

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Paper Title: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Discourses of Development in Marchawar
Author: Krishna P. Adhikari1 and David Gellner2
Affiliation: 1Research Officer, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford; 2Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK

Abstract: In Marchawar, the southernmost part of Nepal’s Rupandehi district, there is a pervasive discourse of improvement which contrasts the past (bad) with the present (relatively good). Compared to the remembered past, it is undoubtedly true that most people are better off and that overt lawlessness is much less. Living on the border has benefits: access to cheaper goods in India, the possibility of petty trading, access to two different state systems, and access to educational and medical facilities in India. But one aspect in which people perceive a change for the worse is that transborder lives are coming under increasing pressure from both states.

The discourse of development is deeply moral and it implicates both collectivities and individuals. It is by no means the only moral framework within which people live their lives, but it is a very powerful and pervasive one. The manner in which the ideology of development in Nepal restructures people’s lives has been persuasively analysed in several well-known statements (e.g. Pigg 1992; Fujikura 2013). The idea of development as an essentially moral process, one that revalues people’s views of themselves and their history, has been and is shared even by those who have put forward the most searing critiques of the way development is in practice delivered (Panday 1999; Shrestha 1999).

This paper builds on longitudinal observation and work over two decades. It draws primarily on Adhikari’s PhD research (early 2000s), as well as on his 2.5-year period of development work in the district (1990s), and on field visits by both authors in 2014 and by Adhikari in 2015. It combines surveys, ethnographic interviews, secondary sources (news archives, published books), and memories of activist experience.

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Paper Title: Power Play: An Intricate Story of the Founding of Nepal’s First University
Author: Lok Ranjan Parajuli
Affiliation: Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Abstract: Nepal’s first university—Tribhuvan University (TU)—was established only in 1959, although there was a serious effort to set up a university a decade earlier, in 1949, during the reign of the last Rana Prime Minister Mohan Shamsher. The earlier effort did not realize a university: it was aborted after an exercise of a year or so, due mainly to internal political, financial and external factors (Parajuli forthcoming). There doesn’t seem to be much of a headway/interest in pushing the university idea immediately after the political change of 1951. However, with the setting up of the National Education Planning Commission in March 1954, the idea of a national university was reinvigorated—the Commission’s report recommended for the “immediate action to open a university” (see Pandey, KC and Wood 1956). The Government of Nepal (GON) also took up this recommendation, as it figured in the first Five Year Plan (Shakya 1984). Soon after, the existing education related agreement between the GON and the United States Operation Mission (USOM) was amended, and a higher education component was added to support the endeavor to establish the university in the country. In the meantime, two university commissions were formed. Kaisher Bahadur KC reportedly led the first commission, which it seems very few people knew and heard about, and it somehow collapsed shortly afterwards (Shakya 1984). The second commission under the co-chair-ship of the two queen mothers (wives of late king Tribhuvan) was formed in March 1956 with Dr Parashar Narayan Suwal as its member secretary. With the tutelage of queen mothers and with also the support of the US through the higher education project, one may think that the university project sailed through rather smoothly, and the extant published literature may allude to a linear progression (e.g., Shakya 1984; Upadhyay 2058 v.s.; TU 2066). However, a close reading of the published documents, and particularly the archival documents portray a different, convoluted story. This paper argues that there were conflicting interests at play: the university project was stymied from the outset by the “cold war” within the palace led by queen mothers on one front and the disinterested reigning King Mahendra on the other, as well as the competition between the US and India to exert their sphere of influence in Nepal. Based primarily on the personal/official records available at the HB Wood collections of Hoover Archives, this paper narrates the intricate story of the politics of the founding of the Tribhuvan University.

Pandey, Rudra Raj, Kaisher Bahadur KC and Hugh B Wood. 1956. Education in Nepal. Kathmandu: Bureau of Publication, Ministry of Education.
Parajuli, Lokranjan. Forthcoming. A University for the Nation’s Survival? A History of the University that Didn’t Become. In Nepal: Cultural Politics in the Long 1950s. Mark Liechty, Pratyoush Onta and Lokranjan Parajuli, eds.
Shakya, Soorya Bahadur. 1984. Establishing and Development of Tribhuvan University (1955-1973). Kathmandu: Research Division, Rector’s Office, TU.
TU (Tribhuvan University). 2066 v.s. Tribhuvan Vishwovidayalay Swarna Jayanti Smarika 2066. Kathmandu: TU.
Upadhyay, Purushottam Prasad. 2058 v.s. Tribhuvan Vishwovidyalaya : Vigatdekhi Vartamansamma. Kathmandu: Bina Upadhyay.

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Paper Title: An Old Monarchy, A New Democracy and Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: A Holistic Approach for Sustainable Development
Author: Lopita Nath
Affiliation: Professor of History, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas, USA

Abstract: In the 21st century Bhutan has re-established its geopolitical identity by adopting a new system of government, a new constitution and also creating a global interest in their policy of Gross National Happiness. Leo Rose, in his seminal 1977 work, “The Politics of Bhutan”, observes that there is “no other political system presently extant with which the Bhutanese polity is comparable in either its ‘traditional’ polity or its process of political development.” In 2008 Bhutan adopted a democratic system of government with the approval of the Monarchy. The new democracy still works with the consent of the 5th King of Bhutan, as the Head of State. The new governance structure of Bhutan is intrinsically tied to its holistic state policy of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which Bhutan adopted as a state policy, pioneered by the 4th king in 1972. This paper discusses the process of democratization in Bhutan and   role of the monarchy in the new governance. This paper examines how the new governance structure of Bhutan, has succeeded in adapting to the state policy of GNH. The paper is based on fieldwork in Bhutan, and interviews with government officials including the Speaker of the National Assembly, journalists and other researchers in Bhutan involved with implementing the policy of GNH under the new democratic government. The research seeks to answer the following questions: How has Bhutan made the transition from Monarchy to Democracy? What is the role of the Monarchy in the new democratic Bhutan? How has the new government implemented the policy of GNH? What has been the impact of GNH on the people, including the different ethnicities living in Bhutan?  What has been the international response to GNH? Despite challenges, the new governance in Bhutan, has developed a holistic vision of sustainable development for its people under the banner of Gross National Happiness.

The paper will be based on the following outline:

Introduction: Where is Bhutan in the 21st century?
The Monarchy in Bhutan.
Development of democratic institutions in Bhutan
The new democracy: Constitution and Elections
Gross National Happiness and its implementation and global impact
Transition from Monarchy to Democracy
Holistic vision of sustainable development

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Paper Title: When Do Minorities Get Autonomy, And When Do They Not? Marginalized Groups and Movements for Federal Autonomy in Nepal
Author: Mahendra Lawoti
Affiliation: Professor, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University, USA

Abstract: Even though a broad spectrum of scholars studying ethnic conflict agree that autonomy should be awarded to territorially concentrated ethnic groups to manage conflict in multiethnic societies (Lijphart 1976; Horowitz 1985; Elazar 1987; Gurr 1993; Kymlicka 1996; Watts 1999), the idea is highly contested at the political level. Thus, even though many ethnic groups around the world have demanded autonomy, the ruling groups controlling the state have seldom granted it. Many minorities continue to struggle for it, peacefully as well as through violent means. In this context, this paper asks when do minorities become able to attain autonomy and when do they fail? This paper answers this question with the case study of Nepal where the 2015 Constitution awarded autonomy to a group (Madhesi), even though in a truncated form, while rejecting the demand of other minority groups (Hill and Tarai indigenous nationalities). Nepal is a suitable case for answering this question because it contains two set of groups that have achieved varied outcomes (attainment versus failure), enabling examination of the necessary as well as sufficient conditions for attaining autonomy following Mills’ Method of Difference.

I will compare population concentration and proportion, international support, cohesiveness of identity, commonality of language, history of political movement, history of political party formation, education, and material wellbeing between Madhesi and indigenous nationalities (Limbu among Hill and Western Tharu among Tarai groups, the two most mobilized among respective groups) to examine factors that contributed in attaining autonomy. Common language and cohesive identity appear to be necessary but not sufficient condition as not only Madhesi enjoy cohesive identity and share common language (Hindi) but also Limbu and Western Tharus (Tarai), who failed to get autonomy, share language and enjoy cohesive identity. What seems to make the difference is territorial concentration and proportion of population. A majority population in the eastern Madhes enabled the group to launch effective movements in the region while the lack of majority in respective regions hindered the Limbu and Tharu from sustaining movements, especially when the state and ruling groups countered them. The long history of political movement (Limbu) did not appear to enable a sustained movement while the longest history of political party formation (Madhesi) was crucial in the mobilization of the Madhesi masses while shorter history probably hindered the Tharus from effective mobilization of their moderately sized population. International support to the Madhesi may have also played a significant role. The paper will trace how common language contributed to formation of cohesive identities, which in turn contributed to launching movements. However, the longer history of party formation enabled the Madhesi to mobilize its majority population effectively to force the state in awarding autonomy whereas the Limbu and Tharu, who were not majority in their own regions, were not able to sustain long movements and thwart counter movement of the ruling elite, which then rejected their demands for autonomy.

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Paper Title: Nepalese Canadian Youth Civic Engagement: Young Nepalese Canadians Experiences In High School
Nabin Maharjan1 and Thomas O’Neill
Affiliation: 1PhD Candidate, Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada

Abstract: There is no authentic data on Nepalese migration to Canada, but a significant number of people started to immigrate to Canada as permanent residence in early 1990s. The young Nepalese immigrants living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), learned civic education and civic behaviours during their high school, i.e. Grade 9 to Grade 12. Although most of the developed countries introduced civic educations in high schools; Canada, especially in the province of Ontario, introduced 40 hours of community service program in 1999. It continues to be a mandatory requirement to graduate high school. The key aim of this mandatory community service program is to develop civic values in young people at an early age and to engage civically responsible young people for strengthening local communities (MOET,1999). However, several studies on youth engagement have identified that young people’s civic engagement is gradually declining; as a result, communal values and beliefs are weakening in local communities. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in studying youth civic engagement to better explain the motivation of young generation to engage in community services. A study on mandatory community services suggests that positive volunteering experiences increase the civic participation of young people (Pancer, Brown, Henderson, and Ellis-Hale, 2007). Despite the studies on mandatory community services program in Canadians’ high schools, young Nepalese Canadians’ experiences and perception on community services program is still unknown. Little attention is given to how young immigrants such as young Nepalese Canadian are experiencing community service program in Canadian high school system. Through analysis of 10 young Nepalese Canadians in-depth interviews, I will present my paper on how young Nepalese Canadians, living in GTA, are experiencing, and perceiving the community services program in high school. This paper will, first, explore the impact of mandatory community services program on young Nepalese Canadians from an immigrant’s perspective. Second, it will examine the significance of community services programs for young immigrants especially for young Nepalese Canadian to develop civic behavior as well as to engage in community activities. Finally, it will highlight their challenges of young Nepalese in adapting to Canadian life. 

Ministry of Education and Training. (1999). Ontarion Secondary Schools,9-12- Diploma Program Requirements. Toronto: Ministry of Education and Training. Retrieved from
Pancer, S. M., Brown, S. D., Henderson, A., & Ellis-Hale, K. (2007). The impact of high school Mandatory Community Service Programs on Subsequent volunteering and civic engagement. Toronto: Knowledge Development Centre, Imagine Canada. Retrieved from

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Paper Title: The Other World Connection: A Study of the “Thread Cross” Ceremony in Sikkim
Author: Neha Sharma1 and Swati Akshay Sachdeva2
Affiliation: 1M Phil Candidate, Sikkim University, India; 2Associate Professor, Sikkim University, India

Abstract: Situated in Eastern Himalayas, the mountainous state of Sikkim shares its border with Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. Among the many existing types of Buddhism, in Sikkim Vajrayana Buddhism (Lamaism) is practiced and rituals are an important aspect of  this form of  Buddhism, these rituals are not just bound within the monasteries, they are performed at home as well. Rituals are very important in every religion and it has a symbolic meaning attached to it.

One such ritualistic ceremony is the thread-cross ceremony practiced by the Buddhists of Sikkim.  It was basically part of pre-Buddhist Bon faith in Tibet but with the passage of time it got incorporated in the Lamaist form of Buddhism. This ceremony is performed to trap the evil spirits in the web type structure of the thread cross. Basically a simple thread cross is made up of two wood which is tied to make into a shape of a cross; a diamond shape is made with thread which resembles a spider’s web. The threads used are of different colours; white, red, yellow, green and blue and each of them have symbolic meaning attached to it. These thread cross functions as a web where the evil spirits are trapped and after the ceremony is completed the thread cross is destroyed by breaking, burning and by casting away at a crossroad.

This ceremony is also practiced in other regions such as South-West China, Mongolia, among the Kachin and Naga tribes in India. Further, it is to be noted that these ceremonies are not peculiar only to countries where Buddhism is being practiced; it is also found in South Africa, Peru, Australia and Sweden.

Although one can trace certain facts about the mdos ceremony in the 1950s work of scholars like Wojkowitz and Gorer (1951), there is hardly any study on this ceremonies in the case of Sikkim (after its mergence with the Indian state). There is a paucity of adequate literature on the mdos or thread-cross ceremony especially in the present day Sikkim although this ceremony is very much prevalent in the state.

The paper will look into as how to historically contextualise the nature of thread-cross ceremony as practiced in Sikkim, it will also see if there is any gender dimension related to this ceremony. It will further try to analyse the manifest and latent functions (if any) of the ceremony and lastly the contemporary relevance of the ceremony will also be thoroughly analysed.

The research will be primarily qualitative in nature. It would be based on participant observation followed by semi-structured in-depth or short interviews. Further, the study would use purposive sampling techniques along with a snow ball attempt to collect data. It would further help to throw light on the complex yet very relevantly inter-connected this-worldly and other-worldly connection through the use of symbolism in the practice of thread-cross ceremony.

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Paper Title: Debating Secularism in Nepal
Author: Niraj Kumar Roy
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Centre for Political Studies and International Relations, Central University of South Bihar, Gaya, India

Abstract:  The emergence of secularism is seen as an indispensable, but a fundamental political ideology in a democratic set-up. A modern nation state that values democracy is expected to guarantee the freedom of conscience and liberty of choices for the individuals and communities as a religiously and culturally diverse society. By adopting the secular political ideology, the nation-state aims to preclude inter and intra-religious domination and hegemony. In this regard, Nepal which is a land of diversity in terms of religion, culture and language may face a high probability of domination of one sect over the other, especially given its history as a Hindu state under the monarchial rule. The possibility of state’s biasness and the resultant discrimination on the basis of religion could be high, if the state may fail to uphold secular values. The demand for democracy was not new in Nepal. It was started from the 1950’s onwards but, the campaign of secularism has been started since 1990 when some of activist group like Thervada Buddhist monk, marginalized people and Janjati were questioning the Hindu identity of state and they didn’t want to be counted as a member of Hindu sect. These group has been started a campaign for achieving its equal status, rights and space for all religion practicing in country. These activists felt that the followers of Hinduism are trying to impose their own identity on tribal as well as other religious group in Nepal. For them, the upper caste domination in political and economic field has been protected through the Hindu identity of Nepal. The core elements of their demand were to acknowledge the multi-religious and multi-ethnic composition of Nepali state. It doesn’t mean that they were opposing the role of religion in public sphere rather it was a call for non-Hindu to be treated as equal with Hindu. Later on their demands were supported by the Maoist party in its 40-point agenda in which they presented before the peoples war in 1996. The mainstream political parties like Nepal Congress and UML have been also advocated the idea of secularism because they thought that the Hindu identity of Nepal is the major hurdle for democracy. As a result, the interim constitution of January, 2007 declares Nepal as a secular state and finally secularism as a political ideology has been adopted through the promulgation of a new constitution in 2015. In this way Nepali constitution has been adopted the political philosophy of secularism in which it defines secularism as a protection of religion and culture being plasticized since ancient times religious and cultural freedom. Nepali state also ensures that each person shall be to profess, practice and preserve his/her religion according to his/her faith. Thus the Modern identity of the state led to various debates among different groups of Nepal including politicians, the legal community, religious community and social activists. 

Structure of The Paper: – When Nepal adopted secularism as a political ideology in its constitution it led to a new political debate among the Nepali civil society as well as academia that secularism is a western ideology or the concepts of secularism emerged and evolved in historical experiences of Nepal. Thus, the proposed topic will examine the secularism at the three levels of analysis such as is Nepali secularism merely a western concept? Why did Nepal adopt secularism as a political ideology in its constitution? What are the different debate on secularism in Nepal?

Therefore, the proposed work will address these lacunas and will take critical and comparative approach. 

Methodology: – This research work will be carried out with the help of historical, analytical and comparative methods. The study would be analytical and exploratory in nature with the help of theoretical and conceptual exploration.

 Key Words: Secularism, Democracy, Political Ideology and Republic

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Paper Title: Other Side of the Civil Conflict in Nepal: An Empirical Exploration into Health and Well-Being
Author: Nirmal Kumar Raut1 and Ryuichi Tanaka2
Affiliation: 1Assistant Professor, Central Department of Economics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; 2Professor, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, Japan

Abstract: Conflict is normally disruptive for efficient delivery of public services such as health and education and therefore has a long term consequences on human capital formation. We investigate whether the disruptive hypotheses holds true in the particular conflict setting of Nepal.

Nepal experienced ten years of civil conflict (1996 to 2006) between the State and the Maoist forces. Anecdotes are available about the effects of the civil conflict on health service delivery in Nepal: some argue that the conflict disrupted the smooth flow of health service delivery while others claim that the health was the least affected of all sectors. The claimants of the latter group reason that the perception of the Maoist towards public service delivery was reportedly positive. There is also evidence that the Maoist promote cultural practices that were progressive in nature; an urge to such practices may also have changed people’s behavior affecting health status and health care utilization.   Hence, a true effect of conflict on basic service such as health is not clear a priori in case of Nepal.

We analyze the effects of the armed conflict in Nepal on individual health status and the institutional health care utilization. We use three waves of nationally representative household surveys (Nepal Living Standards Survey) that uniquely covers various stages of conflict viz., no-conflict, conflict and post-conflict period and the detailed conflict data from Informal Service Center Nepal. We further exploit district level variation in the conflict intensity to evaluate short term and medium term impacts of conflict (that corresponds to the latter two stages of conflict).

Following difference-in-difference approach to estimation, we find that conflict is associated with short-term improvement in individual health status and both short-term and medium-term increase in health care utilization. One standard deviation increase in conflict-related causalities is associated with about 4 and 10 percentage point improvement respectively in health status and utilization.

Lastly, we provide supportive evidence for the possible mechanisms of conflict-health association. We find that the improvement in the quality of health services particularly by way of Maoist’s policing of staff’s absenteeism in health facilities have led to better health outcomes in conflict intense areas. Another possible pathway may be that the drive towards policing cultural norms by Maoists may have induced rural people to seek for modern health care which is still not customary in large part of rural Nepal.

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Paper Title: Voices from the Mountain: Hidden Transcripts and Transculturation of Labour in The Nanga Parbat and Everest Expeditions (1922-1939)
Author: Nokmedemla Lemtur
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Abstract: The emergence of Himalayan mountaineering in the 20th century can be historically situated in the context of Western imperial projects and the performance of heroic masculinity. Mountaineering expedition routes and spaces were shared between the Western climbers and subordinate labouring communities, bound together by social and economic aspirations related to the project of scaling a peak. Such aspirations brings to the fore the idea of the mountains as a ‘transcultural space.’ Henri Lefebvre’s idea of social spaces “contains a great diversity of objects, both natural and social, including the network and pathways which facilitate the exchange of materials, things, and information. Such objects are not only things but also relations.”[6] This presents the idea of the mountain as an interactive arena for circulation – a transcultural zone that offers possibilities for historical agency. This paper looks at a series of expeditions to two mountain peaks in the 1920s and 1930s – the German Nanga Parbat expeditions and the British Everest expeditions – to explore the agency of expedition labour who were recruited from the various indigenous communities of the Himalayan region, for e.g., the Baltis and Chilasis of Kashmir, ‘Bhotias’ and Sherpas of the Nepal-Tibetan region, to work as porters. Scholarship on labour has focused substantially on agrarian or industrial contexts – I wish to draw it to the vertical frontiers of empire with a special focus on the study of transcultural exchanges in the fringes of the empire. I am interested in exploring such exchanges through a study of clothing and food that were distributed to the porters and the role it played in their identity and exercising their agency in the mountains. Through a re-reading of expedition accounts and archival reports one finds ‘hidden transcripts’ that challenge the dominant narrative of mountaineering history, and provide a different understanding of the interaction and relationship the indigenous labouring communities had with mountaineering and the mountain environment.

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Paper Title: Legislation and Legitimization of Gender Discriminatory Practices
Ojaswi KC1 and Roshani Regmi1
Affiliation: 1BA in Law student, Kathmandu School of Law, Bhaktapur, Nepal

Abstract: One of the many variables of social construction is law and gender. The debate of whether the law shapes the society or the society shapes the law can be understood through the inter-relationship between law and gender. As a social construct, Law plays its role through legitimizing the existing gender practices or condemning such practices. Whereas gender practices plays its role by showing the status of gender stratification in the society. In the study of inter-connection between gender and law, gender stratification provides a valuable insight of both the law and society. It helps to see whether the gender discriminatory practices are legitimized through the legislation or not. Gender discriminatory practices are not only unconstructive to the growth of society but also pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of people. Such Gender discriminatory practices stem primarily from customs, but when the law itself legitimizes these practices, it becomes increasingly difficult to curb such malpractices. The primary aim of the law is to secure the well-being of people. So why then, does the law itself legitimize such detrimental practices?

In this aspect, this paper will look into the historical background of gender discriminatory practices and how the Nepalese law has gradually institutionalized such practices. To show that in many instances, a defective law has been the easiest tool to legitimize discriminatory practices. The paper will further analyze the existing discriminatory provisions and its effect on the society. Furthermore, the paper will try to give a jurisprudential explanation of the reasons behind legitimizing such discriminatory practices. Finally, the paper shows how legitimizing such practices have an adverse impact on the society by continuing to allow space for discrimination based on gender. For this purpose, the researchers will be using various forms of secondary data including books and papers related to jurisprudence and the history of gender discrimination in Nepal. Relevant laws will be analyzed and the researchers will also use some important case laws to analyze the prevalent gender discriminatory practices and the judicial responses to such practices.

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Paper Title: Dewali through Sociological Lens: A Study of Ancestor Worship amongst the Khadkas of Nepal
Author: Rachna Bista
Affiliation: MPhil Candidate, Sociology, Sikkim University, India

Abstract: A search for a sense of security in the ever-changing world is an essential part of the human condition. In this regard, often an attempt is made to connect to the other-world. Ancestor worship is one such age old attempt followed in different societies and communities. In the case of the Chhetri community of Nepal, the term Dewali represents a form of ancestor with its own unique cultural connotations. It is an ancient shamanistic practice which has rich established beliefs and ritual, passed from generation to generation by the means of practice, folklore, proverbs and myths. According to a belief, Dewali is performed to please the household deities (masto god) for peace, health and long life of family members. There is no specific idol of masto god thus the ritual is performed by the Jhakri (Shamans) who act as a mediator to reach the god.

The practice of Dewali is very rigid in Nepal as compared to other parts of the world where Chhetris are inhabited. Chhetris are highly populated caste group of Nepal with 16.6% of the total population as per Census of Nepal, 2001. In terms of religious association, Chettris belong to a larger Hindu population. However, there are certain sub-categories within this community who has retained their ancient shamanistic practices along with the more organized Hindu practices. The Khadkas of Nepal is one such community amongst the Chettris who has retained shamanistic rituals in the form of Dewali till today. However, there is hardly any literature or academic work done on this practice of the Khadkas. Moreover, it has been observed through oral history that the Dewali tradition has went through many changes in the sense that no longer it is been performed in the actual traditional manner. Indeed, some Chettri groups have totally given up this practice.

Thus, the present study attempts to fill the gaps. It aims to analyze the contemporary significance of the Dewali ceremony as a practice amongst the Khadkas of Nepal. It is an attempt to understand the continuity and change in the ritual and ceremonies. It also attempts to explore the role of women in the ceremony associated with Dewali.

The present study is primarily qualitative in nature based on methods such as participant observation, group discussion and semi- structured interviews.

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Paper Title: Impact of British Colonial Rule in the Modernisation of Sikkim
Author: Rajeev Rai
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of International Relations, Sikkim University, India

Abstract: In the latter half of the 19th century, British appear to have achieved complete dominance at the apex of the formal structure of power. Britain feared that another European power might take the opportunity of the control over the subcontinent. With the defeat of the French commercial interests, Britain gradually acquired control over vast regions of the subcontinent. Britain formulated the Eastern Himalayan region as a protective shield against powers like Tsarist Russia and Imperial China. In the Eastern Himalayan region, the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim and the present state of India occupied a significant position; its strategic location gave it an importance irrespective of its size; wedged in between Nepal on the west, Bhutan on the south-east, China on the north and north-east, and India on the south.

This paper aims to position Sikkim in the larger colonial framework for analytical purpose, the methodology used in this study is historical–analytical but at the same time comparative, because combining historical and comparative methods may yield more clues to exactly how the modern state developed. Sikkim was in such a position where the British influence was deemed necessary to protect their interests in India. The strategic location of Sikkim was referred as a ‘mountain highway to Calcutta’ through the route from Gyantse in Southern Tibet, crossing the Chumbi Valley to Sikkim and onward to India. An alternative route also existed from Shigatse in Tibet to Sikkim, and from Sikkim to Darjeeling and finally to Calcutta (the official heart of British India at that point in time). These two routes were critical for the trade between Sikkim and Tibet, but they also posed a threat to the British because these routes provided potential passage to India, essentially slipping through India’s back door.

The geopolitics of the region permitted Sikkim to remain as a colonial periphery state; colonial periphery is a state which is not a colony literally but not outside the zone of influence of the colonialism. The scope of this paper is to analyze the British policy in Sikkim which shaped it in accordance to their interest, the socio-political engineering of British which modelled Sikkim in the parlance of the modern state to suit their interests. This paper seeks to provide answers to the questions: how did British policy impact upon the state formation in Sikkim and what are the implications of British policy in the postcolonial period. For this purpose postcolonial framework will be adopted and drawn conclusions on the line of the postcolonial framework, a new line of enquiry that was developed in western theory but yet to use in the context of Sikkim. In other words, the sole purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of British colonial rule on developing Sikkim as a modern state through the postcolonial framework.

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Paper Title: “Pothi Bashio”: Security of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) in Nepal
Author: Rajya Laxmi Gurung
Affiliation: MPhil Candidate, Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: “Pothi Bashio”- This Nepali proverb perfectly capture the essence of general feeling of Nepalese society towards women, who “speak”. Women with “voice” consider to be immoral, inauspicious and a rebel who are dangerous to the society and who must be crushed. However, with more than 7000 women human rights defenders in Nepal this notion against women with the ‘voice’ is being challenged. Despite the increasing presence and recognition of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Nepal, the defenders face high security risk while working (both at community level as well as at National level). Security risk stems not only from ―criminals or alleged perpetrators but also, in many cases, from members of the very community they are working for. These threats range from minor verbal abuse to physical abuse as well as social stigma targeting not only WHRDs but their family members as well.

This paper explores the nature of violence faced by the WHRDs and the strategies used by them to minimize the impact of violence. This paper also attempts to investigate on the reason behind such attacks and its link to patriarchy. The research uses qualitative approach where narratives of WHRDs have been used to understand the risks, vulnerabilities and threats faced by the WHRDs. The paper also analyzes the individual and as well as institutional capacities and strategies used by WHRDs to minimize the threats or impacts of these threats. Some additional interviews have been taken with victims, police officers and community leaders. The paper aims to contribute in development of safeguard/ protection strategies that is relevant to WHRDs working in Nepal. This paper is a part of ongoing research project “Security and Protection for WHRD in Nepal” funded by Liberty and Peace Foundation-Nepal.

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Paper Title: Migrant Husbands and Left-behind Wives: Effect of Spousal Separation on Subjective Well-being of Young Nepali Women
Author: Ram Narayan Shrestha
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India

Abstract: Migration may be seen as household strategy to maximize household welfare in which other members of the family are heavily involved. The migration of male members of family, however, may push female members of household into various forms of vulnerabilities as well as new form of opportunities. The “left-behind” wives of the migrants will have to bear new responsibilities in the family. Some studies have shown that the male outmigration and resulting remittance flow have helped in improving family consumption and welfare, “gender empowerment” and gender norms. However, wives of migrants have to bear higher cost in terms of emotional detachment and loss of intimacy, increased care responsibilities, etc. Determinant of the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wives is complex and not easily captured by some dimensions of welfare like household income, consumption, etc. alone. We use subjective well-being (SBW) as measure to capture the effect of husband’s migration on the welfare of the wife of the migrants.

The massive outmigration of Nepali youths in search of employment is common phenomenon in Nepal. It has impacted every aspects of life in Nepali society. The recent data shows that husband of about 34 percent of married women lives away from their home and almost half of them are living away for a year or more. Undoubtedly, the spousal separation has social, economic and emotional effects on “left-behind wives”. The effects are reflected in the welfare of the family, changing gender role, increased household care responsibilities, labor supplies, etc.  However, there is scant literature on the effect of spousal separation on wellbeing of those left-behind wives. The purpose of this study is to explore the various aspects of well-being the spousal separation on the left-behind wives. Using household level data from the Multiple Indicator cluster Survey (MICS), this paper access the impact of spousal separation on the subjective well-being of the young left-behind wives and the determinants of their subjective well-being.

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Paper Title: Migration and Agrarian Change in Nepal Plains
Author: Ram Narayan Shrestha1 and Krishna Sharma2
Affiliation: 1PhD Candidate, South Asian University, New Delhi, India; 2Consultant, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, India

Abstract: The widespread phenomenon of labor migration in Nepal has impacted every sector of the economy. There has been numerous study on evaluating the effect of migration on nation’s GDP, growth in the economy and in other macro-economic aspects. Also, the effect of remittance received from the migrants on Nepal’s economy has been cliché among many policy maker and scholars. It is found that the study on the effect of migrants on household’s life has often sidelined.  Therefore, the present study makes an attempt to study on effect of migration on social and economic structure of the society at ground level. Despite the gloomy scenario of the agriculture, the agriculture is still a major sector of the nation’s economy contributing approximately 30 percent to nation’s GDP where almost 60 percent of the population are still engaged. Hence, the study was carried out to study the effect of migration pattern on agricultural households.

Using primary survey data (qualitative and quantitative) from the three districts of Terai/Madesh of Nepal the paper attempts to look at the impact on various economic outcomes of agricultural households such as farm business income, saving, usage of financial services, employment generation. It also makes an attempt to look at change in tenancy pattern, agrarian relation, land holding distribution, farm business income, local labor market, agricultural production. The scope for the modernization of the agriculture and adoption of modern technology and factors affecting this are also explored. Finally, it tries to capture relation between the tendency of youth to migrate and attitude towards agriculture in the plains of Nepal.

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Paper Title: Domestic Violence and Maternal Nutritional Status in Nepal: Findings from NDHS, 2016
Author: Ramesh Prasad Adhikari1, Subash Yogi2, Ajay Acharya3 and Kenda Cunningham4
Affiliation: 1Research Manager, Hellen Keller International, Nepal; 2M&E and Knowledge Management Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal; 3Nutrition and FP Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal and 4 Senior Technical Advisor, Suaahara II/USAID

Background: Global literature suggests that domestic violence has a significant impact on the nutritional status of mothers. Domestic violence increases stress levels, which result in poor self-care including the consumption of less food and in turn, low body mass index (BMI). There is little empirical evidence on the relationship between domestic violence and maternal nutritional status in Nepal.

Objective: This paper assesses the associations between domestic violence and maternal nutritional status in Nepal. 

Method: A nationally representative cross-sectional household survey, known as the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2016, includes information on a wide variety of health topics, as well as socio-economic and demographic and other information for sub-populations, such as women’s experiences with domestic violence. For this analysis, maternal nutrition measures will include as BMI and anemia (<11.0 g/dl). For this analysis, only women who responded to the domestic violence survey questions (n=3562) and have BMI (n=3288) and anemia (n=3542) data were included. Potentially confounding factors at the individual, household and community level were included in the adjusted models such as age, family size, no of living children, education status, employment, caste/ethnicity, headship of the households, assets ownership, wealth status, husband alcohol consumption habit etc. To explore the associations between domestic violence and BMI and anemia separate logistic regression models were used.

Result: Findings reveals that approximately 26% of women had experienced domestic violence. Among them, 18.0% were found to have BMI (<18.5) compared to 12.8% for those never experienced domestic violence. Likewise, 45.5% women who had ever experienced any form of domestic violence were found to be anemic compared to 37.6% for those who never experienced domestic violence. The odds ratio (OR) shows a positive significant association between domestic violence with BMI (<18.5) (unadjusted OR=1.5, P=0.000, CI=1.2-1.9; Adjusted OR =1.4, P=0.01, CI=1.1-1.8) and domestic violence and anemia (unadjusted OR=1.4, P=0.000, CI =1.1-1.7; Adjusted OR =1.3, P=0.03, CI=1.0-1.6).

Conclusion: Domestic violence and maternal nutritional status are associated in Nepal. Thus, national and sub-national health and nutrition policies and programs, including Nepal’s Multi-sectoral Nutrition Plan, should focus on this issue. Addressing violence may be a mechanism for improving maternal nutritional status in Nepal. Further research, including experimental studies, are needed to confirm the directionality and pathway for how domestic violence and maternal nutrition are related.

Key words: domestic violence, BMI, anemia, Nepal

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Paper Title: Reorganizing Resource for School Education: Reflecting on Earthquakes and Subsequent Crisis
Author: Rukh Gurung
Affiliation: Research Assistant, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Abstract: The 2015 Earthquake in Nepal severely destroyed the tangible and intangible culture of the communities, including educational infrastructures. In its initial and official assessment, Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), government estimated that the total damages and losses were NPR 31.3 billion. The estimated damage of educational infrastructures and assets alone was NPR 28 billion. Its losses were valued at NPR 3.2 billion. Out of the total damages and losses the share of public schools was 92 percent. Recently, Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has entered its third year, but NRA had mandate to finance and reorganize school education since its early days. It is, however, less clear how and whether the school education has been revitalized as envisioned in PDNA and in subsequent recovery plans and programs. This paper analyses how school education and its infrastructure has been reorganized, if any, during the time of crisis and reconstruction phase? In the process of reorganizing school education in what capacity local actors were influential and decisive? While examining educational reorganization and local participation, this paper further explores, the forms of resource generation and labor mobilizations, the dynamics of local politics, and community relationships. It does so, by drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork during 2015-2016 in Haku, Rasuwa. The paper engages with the idea of ‘resources’ and offers a critique to its conventional notion looking at educational reorganization and rebuilding processes.

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Paper Title: Beyond Empowerment and Exploitation: Care Chain of Transnational Migratory Nepali Women
Author: Sanjaya Aryal
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

Abstract: Migration of Nepali women nationally as well as transnationally for paid labour work and particularly for care work is increasing rapidly. Among the other reasons, this is broadly linked to social transformation taking place both at the source and the destination. Studies on care work migration show that the foreign migration and associated remittance flow by migrant women is not only redefining the role of women as breadwinners for their family and gradually changing the gender role in Nepal, but also shaping the socio-cultural meanings of care, and the care economy more broadly. There have been some studies looking at Nepali women’s migration to the UK; but these do not conceptualise women’s migration using the framework of the ‘global care chain’, originally coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in the year 2000, i.e. how migration of a family member and the transfer of care responsibility from one person to other affect the chain of care at the family level and beyond. This research provides socio-cultural meanings of migration using the framework of the ‘global care chain’ and the experiences and perceptions of women who migrate from a low-income country (Nepal) to a high-income country (UK) for care work.

In order to fulfill the aim of the research, following questions are addressed during the research.

  • What are the experiences and perceptions of Nepali women and men involved in care work in the UK? How do these women and men manage care of their family (whether accompanied in the UK or left behind in Nepal) while simultaneously providing care in the UK market?
  • How do women and their household make decisions on migration and care?
  • How does care migration shape ‘care’ in the family left behind in Nepal? How does care migration shape patterns of internal migration within Nepal?
  • What regulatory and policy framework are in place in shaping this form of migration?

The questions are addressed by following a case study design. The research uses qualitative research methods to allow discrete attention to each participating migrant and associated care chains by following individual cases in a comprehensive manner. Multi-sited ethnographic fieldworks are conducted in the UK and Nepal. This includes semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews consisting of open-ended questions on life history and participant observations with Nepali women and men involved in care services in the UK and their family members who remain in Nepal.

Following the cases of individual migrants and their family members, it will trace how far and in which ways the households and family back home are able to fill the care gap caused by the migration of a family member. Thus, it will involve looking at how transnational and internal migration from rural to urban areas within Nepal shapes the dynamics of care within Nepali households. Overall, the research seeks to contribute to academic debate on migration and women’s empowerment and more specifically on the effect of transnational migration in influencing ‘care’ and rural-urban migration.

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Paper Title: Token Versus Team Work: Women in the Local Bodies of Nepal 2017
Author: Sanjaya Mahato1 and Pooja Chaudhary2
Affiliation: 1Researcher, Social Science Baha; 2Research Assistant, Social Science Baha, Nepal

Abstract: The paper discusses the debate of women’s inclusion in public spaces as a token or team work.  Women’s inclusion in Nepalese   politics since 1950s – whether it is a democratic space or King’s autocratic space – was mostly treated and taken as a token – means of decoration to show that they are kind to women. Moreover, political structure and mind set of male political leaders never allowed women to be a team work in both legislatures and local bodies. Women’s political participation and policy discussion were often prevented by either party whips or making apex political and judicial bodies for dispute resolution. With the local election data 2017 and reviewing the constitutions, policies and directives we will argue that with constitutional and political mandate, elected women in the local bodies cannot be a token but a team work. Women in public space whether as a token or team work is determined by their works and responsibilities. Despite most of the women are elected in deputy posts in both municipalities and rural municipalities in the local body election 2017 but the constitutional mandate recognize them as a team work. For instance deputy mayors and vice-chairs of the local bodies are assigned as a head of judicial committee and planning and monitoring division. Therefore, women in the local bodies cannot be taken as a token but as a team work.

Key Words: Women, Representation, Token, Team Work, and Election

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Paper Title: Security Sector Restructuring in Nepal: A Case for ‘Hybridity’
Author: Saurabh Kaushik
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Sikkim University, India

Abstract: This paper seeks to highlight the hybrid nature of the process of security sector restructuring (SSR) that unfolded in post-Maoist war Nepal. This is done through employing a theoretical framework consisting of ‘hybridity’ as a central concept drawing on the works of Roger MacGinty in particular and other critical theorists in general. Central to the idea of hybrid peace is the recognition of the fact that liberal peacebuilding in its various dimensions is both inadequate and impracticable in most contexts most of the time. It turns out that as far as security sector restructuring and the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration is concerned, Nepal charted out a unique path insofar as the extent of influence ‘local’ actors exercised in its implementation. The paper uses the method of empirical analysis in order to address the issue at hand drawing on a range of secondary sources. It is found that the goals of the liberal peace project in the domain of security sector reform were not adequately realized. Also, the means through which the outcomes were pursued were far from ‘liberal’ in nature and contained many elements of ‘hybridity’, viz. the confluence of liberal and local elements. The structure of the paper consists of a general introduction to the Maoist war and peace process in Nepal, important elements insofar as the security sector restructuring was concerned, a critique of the liberal peacebuilding paradigm for security sector restructuring, the utility of hybridity in explaining the process of SSR in Nepal with an elucidation of its components with respect to Nepal, and a conclusion. A study of this nature, which is theoretically driven and based on deductive reasoning by employing empirical data to satisfy the contours of a theory rooted in conflict studies, is first such attempt to understand the process of SSR in Nepal.

Key Words: Security Sector Restructuring, Hybridity, Local actors, Maoist War, Nepal

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Paper Title: The Dynamics of Financial Accountability in Nepal’s Community Schools
Author: Shak Bahadur Budhathoki
Affiliation: Associate Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal

Abstract: In the last two decades, Nepal’s education system has undergone significant decentralization process conferring financial powers and responsibilities, among others, to the school actors. At the school level, head teacher, School Management Committee and accountant should cooperate and collaborate for tasks related to financial transactions. As the major bulk of school funds transferred from the center involves recurrent (mainly teacher-salary) and conditional grants (construction, scholarship, textbook, etc that has to be used for the specified purpose), school stakeholders can use limited funds at their own discretion. In this context, to what extent is the performance of local stakeholders consistent with the policy provision and norms set out by the center? How do local stakeholders perceive and practice fiscal accountability in the school context? How do they negotiate their decisions among/between the local actors? And, what factors affect for such decisions making processes?

Drawing on case studies of two community schools, this paper will look at the anomalies between fiscal policies and practices, and explore the dynamics of contextual factors that contribute or constrain in holding school actors accountable in terms of their financial duties and responsibilities. It will further shed light and critique on the mode of Nepal’s decentralization process in the education sector.

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Paper Title: Reloading Nonalignment: Nepal’s Foreign Policy in the Emerging New World Order
Author: Shishir Ghimire
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of International Relations, South Asian University, India

Abstract: The rise of China and India along with other BRICS nations has challenged the existing US-led world order. It seems the matter of time that the new world order will replace the Western world order. Nepal lies between the two fast-growing economies, China and India, probably the movers and shakers of the new world order. From a Nepali perspective, three questions are pertinent here in this situation: what opportunities Nepal has, what threats it has to counter with and what policy should it adapt to tackle such situations. This paper deals with the threat and opportunity aspects and suggests that the time has come to revitalise the old nonaligned policy to adjust even in the newly emerging scenario.

A dominant tendency in academia treats nonalignment as a failed movement and hence the nonaligned policy as an outdated one. The paper claims that for nonaligned countries the very essence of nonalignment was taking decisions at international level independently without being influenced by any powers, and it holds true even today. In a bipolar world, small states had little role to play at international level, the best they did was to adjust their policy as per the systemic change occurred independently of their will. The new world order seems to be multipolar, for at least foreseeable future. Since two of the rising power powers are its neighbours, Nepal can play some roles at regional level without being loomed by the shadow of one or other. It can upgrade itself from a bystander to an active member by adopting the policy of regular engagement with is powerful neighbours. In doing so, maintaining strategic autonomy should be the blueprint for Nepal’s new nonaligned foreign policy. Therefore, the article argues nonalignment in an updated version is the foreign policy approach Nepal should adapt to deal in the emerging new world order successfully.

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Paper Title: Heritage Restoration and Traditional Community Governance in Kathmandu Valley
Author: Shobhit Shakya
Affiliation: Junior Research Fellow, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Abstract: The 2015 Gorkha earthquake and its aftermath have underlined the inadequacies within the Nepali governance system. The problems are evident with the post-earthquake restoration process still not gaining any significant success and many historical structures within the world heritage site of Kathmandu valley still awaiting restoration. However, there has been some respite in the form of community initiatives towards restoration of some heritage structures. These community initiatives seem to be serving as examples of well-working, grassroot mechanisms of governance among the locals in Kathmandu valley. But, what is important to note also on a more general level is that these are not spontaneous actions that have arisen without any deeper connection with local traditions and culture. Rather, the phenomenon seems to be deep-rooted in the traditional practice of cooperative governance that was the hallmark of the specific Newari governance tradition, the guthi system, which included maintenance of public and sacred sites. This may be an extremely interesting example of how traditional non-Western forms of governance can be very efficient and effective. Especially with the availability of better means of coordination and information dissipation through ICT, community cooperation seems to have been rejuvenated and successful to a good extent. To understand how these community efforts are actually working and to investigate their relationship with the guthi system, further study is needed. But, there are examples which suggest that this might indeed be the case. Maitripur Mahavihar in Kathmandu, which is undergoing reconstruction through the initiatives by the families traditionally associated with the Mahavihar, is one of the few cases where progress has been smooth. The Lichhavi-era stupa in Thamel, known as “Ashok Chaitya”, has been restored successfully through community initiatives. There have been attempts from the community to initiate the reconstruction of the Kasthamandap, probably the oldest standing structure in Kathmandu before the earthquake. These cases, along with others, provide for a promising research program.

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Paper Title: The Effect of Capitalism on Marriage
Author: Shreedhar Pokhrel
Affiliation: Lecturer, Pokhara University, Nepal

Abstract: The main purpose of this study is to give a brief explanation of relationship between changing social structure and social institution, specially orientation on the changing marriage practice of Urban Nepal.  For analysis of changing social institution requires an understanding of the broader structural transformation. Every individual has born free to choose their partner/spouse. However, this freedom of choosing own mate was not in practice before two generation in Pokhara. Thus, this paper explains how such types of freedom of choice is possible and what are the factors contributing for change in institution of marriage and how broader social structure-capitalism- effect on particular social institution. Based on case study of married couple this study compared past and present marriage practice. Marriage is not only an union or choice between two people or family but it is also an effect of broader social circumstance. The transform of arranged marriage to love marriage also depends on the type of interaction they faced in their social relation as well as on macrostructure of the society. The nature of society determined the nature of marriage practice which – arranged, love, forced- people apply in his/her life. The changing trends of marriage toward love in Pokhara is the effect of specific feature or mode of production particularly capitalism -democratization of political system, market oriented economy, expansion of democratic culture and value system, expansion of education, technology and communication, migration, sources of livelihood, increasing global network and market, cultural assimilation and exchange, individual freedom, industrialization or production for market etc. The major finding of this paper is that love marriage practice is only possible in capitalistic mode of production and love marriage is the outcome of social condition and product of capitalism.

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Paper Title: Construction of Whiteness in Jamaica Kincaid’s Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya
Author: Shuva Raj Ranabhat
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of English, The University of Texas at El Paso, USA

Abstract: This paper explores how Antigua-born-American writer Jamaica Kincaid, despite being known as an anti-imperialist, perpetuates whiteness in a disguised form of a travel writer through her travelogue Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya. The way she represents Nepalese landscape, people and culture posits that her travel to Nepal is threaded with the rhetoric of whiteness, metropolitan culture and imperial politics. In particular, she looks at the travelled places and people with an Orientalist lens: surveillance or panopticism, nomination, debasement and binary rhetoric.

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Paper Title: Traditional Knowledge in the Himalayas: A Call for an Exploration in Policy Discourse and the Need for a National Regulatory Framework
Author: Snigdha Bhatta
Affiliation: Junior Associate, Unity Law Firm & Consultancy, Nepal

Abstract: The present paper discusses an issue that has received large attention in the realm of Intellectual Property in South-Asian countries: the conflict between free trade agreements and people’s movement for conservation of traditional knowledge. Since the introduction of the TRIPS Agreement, its objectives have been under deep scrutiny as the rules do not fully accommodate the needs and concerns of the developing countries. At the centre of this controversy lies another Agreement, The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which endeavors to address the issues surrounding the effects of trade on biodiversity and farmer’s rights. A direct contrast to the objectives of TRIPS, the conflict between the two remains unaddressed till date. Nepal is a signatory to both of these agreements.

Under the mandate of TRIPS, all the members have to either provide patent or legislate an “effective sui generis system” for the protection of plant varieties. By virtue of this compliance requirement, Nepal framed the Biodiversity Strategy policy document in 2002, which recognizes the need to protect farmer’s rights. However, the document falls short as there has been no strategy to effectively implement its provisions.  Needless to say, Nepal is at the center of this discussion as it is rich in biological resources and it is imperative that the country take active steps to protect the valuable traditional knowledge of the country.

Owing to the fact that the indigenous communities of the Himalayan region have a wealth of traditional knowledge, the focus of this paper is on the increasing threat of a complete erasure of indigenous culture and traditional knowledge and a natural rise in the access to genetic biotechnological resources. In light of this, the author attempts to give a brief introduction to the concept of bio-piracy and will highlight the biological resources in the Himalayan region of Nepal that are most susceptible to exploitation by MNCs. Part II of the paper will analyze the current laws governing plant varieties in Nepal and will call attention to the shortcomings of the legislation, or the lack thereof. Presently, we only have the Plant Variety Protection and Farmer’s Rights Bill. Key features of the Bill will be analyzed, against the backdrop of the TRIPS agreement and the paper will harp on how TRIPS miserably fails to protect TK in developing countries.

Part III will then introduce CBD as an alternative to address the problems that plague IP issues in Nepal. It will trace the use of this agreement through an array of landmark cases and study the impact on South Asian nations. Ultimately, the author argues that, on policy grounds, application of CBD will highly serve as a tool to protect the rights of the indigenous community and will attempt to answer how developing countries like Nepal can meet the parallel objectives of both TRIPS and CBD.  Inclination towards either TRIPS or CBD alone stifles debate. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to elucidate upon varied reconciliatory approaches that can be undertaken to fit the sui generis system into a sustainable framework and arrive at a harmonious interpretation.

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Paper Title:  Tradition, Law, Polity and Governance vis-à-vis Dzumsas of Lachen and Lachung in Sikkim
Author: Subhajit Debnath
Affiliation: Asian Student Member Scholarship, Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS), USA

Abstract: Every culture necessitates opinionated political agenda of some sort, to maintain social harmony. Indigenous politico-jural systems, were once, numerous and varied, allowing social groups, isolated from the centre of power, to organize themselves according to their particular needs and circumstances. Today, these confined organizations, are gradually dwindling, due to decentralization policies of the nationalist governments around the world.

Placed against the evolving social and physical setting of contemporary times, the Dzumsas of Lachen and Lachung in Sikkim offer a new dimension and approach in research initiatives about an indigenous politico-jural institution, which has managed to endure and acclimatize itself to the altering state of affairs. Ethnically, diverse doctrines of the aboriginal social practices of Sikkim have culminated in the creation of indigenous folk traditions, associated with religion and faith. The historic events have also played a pivotal role in creating such a social mosaic in Sikkim, as this, which have subsequently led to ramifications in the cultural domain as well. Despite advancements in the administrative, justice delivery mechanisms, faith of the people in the primordial traditions, still stands firm. The prevailing indigenous juridical system of Dzumsas in Lachen and Lachung, in Sikkim, include judicial, legislative and procedural aspects.

Disputes, being an integral part of social life and prevalent customs, appear to exacerbate these conflicts, while in doing so; customs also restrain the disputes from destroying the existing social order. The common local wellbeing is reciprocated by a distinct category of arbitrators. The underlining precept, here, is to maintain harmony amongst members of the community, based upon the principles of collective indemnity and communal solidarity.

A comprehensive scholarly analysis of the Dzumsa from a contemporary legal perspective would represent an overdue addition to the existing literature. The system coexists with other modern-day developments, with the objective of working towards preserving cultural identity through indigenous self-governance. The main purpose of this paper is to raise issues for further progress, by incorporating some changes, within the practice in these systems, in order to strike a balance with the fast changing times around.

Key Words: Justice, Harmony, Tradition, Community, Sikkim

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Paper Title: Traditional, Folk, Fusion and Confusion: Music and Change in Newar Community of Kathmandu
Author: Subhash Prajapati
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Ethnomusicology, University of Washington, USA

Abstract: For centuries, the indigenous people from Kathmandu, the Newars have been practicing predominantly Hindu and Buddhist culture, inviting comparison with India before the Mughal invasion of the sixteenth century. Since Nepal was never invaded by the Mughals, the scholars argue that the Newars and their music offer us a glimpse into an archaic South Asian culture. The Newar musical culture these days is undergoing a lot of rapid changes in content and the context mainly as a result of media, migration, and modernization. In a relatively short period of time, there has been a huge increase in women participation in traditional music which used to be considered impure, the caste barrier has been heavily relaxed and the traditional music has paved a way for commercialization. On the one hand, traditional and folk music has been revitalized in many communities. On the other hand, the music has been recontextualized and repositioned by changing repertoire, playing styles, modifying instruments. The instrumental/fusion artists and bands have broken the traditional boundaries. While these artists and bands claim that they have promoted the music and expanded the audience supporting the ‘alternative modernity’ (Feenberg: 1995), some people blame them that they have polluted the traditions by creating the ‘conFusion’ music. In this paper, I examine the changes in Newar music, the causes, and consequences. On the basis of the five-domain framework (Schippers: 2010), I analyze the current position of Newar music in a global perspective of the ecology of music cultures.

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Paper Title: Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Genotypes in Relation to High Altitude Hypoxia Among the Tawang Monpa from Himalayan Mountains
Author: Sudipta Ghosh1, Abigail Bigham2 and Tom Brutsaert3
Affiliation: 1Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Meghalaya, India; 2Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Michigan, USA; 3Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, New York, USA

Abstract: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) plays an important role in cardiovascular homeostasis. A polymorphism in the human ACE gene has been identified in which the presence (insertion, I allele) rather than the absence (deletion, D allele) is associated with tissue ACE activity (Woods and Montgomery 2001). Previous studies suggest that ACE gene insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism has significant genetic influence on high altitude natives. In particular, it has observed that the I-allele is associated with higher arterial oxygen saturation, where an excess of I- allele has been reported in high altitude natives from Peru (Bigham et al. 2008) and Ladakh (Qadar Pasha et al. 2001). With this in mind, the present exploratory study tries to scrutinize whether excess of I- allele in high altitude natives is a universal phenomenon. The study aims to examine the ACE genotypes distribution among the Tawang Monpa with special emphasis on its association with arterial oxygen saturation and other physiological parameters. A total number of 200 adult Monpa (between the ages of 18-35) were recruited in Tawang Town at ~3,200 m above sea level. For each participant, we collected 4 ml intravenous blood for DNA isolation and genotyping of ACE polymorphisms. We also measured height and weight and calculated the body mass index (BMI, kg/m2). Percent body fat (%BF) was estimated from bicep, tricep, subscapular, and suprailiac skin-fold measurements using the prediction equations of Durnin and Womersley (1974). Transcutaneous arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) was measured at rest using a fingertip pulse oximeter. Hemoglobin concentration was measured from a fingertip blood drop using a Hemocue portable hemoglobin analyzer. Forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1-second (FEV1) were measured on each participant following standard protocols

Interestingly, unlike other high altitude natives who exhibit high frequencies of II homozygotes, Tawang Monpa shows significantly high frequency of ID heterozygotes (p< 0.0001). Consequently, both I (0.48) and D (0.52) alleles show equivalent frequencies in this population. Arterial oxygen saturation at rest does not show any association with ACE I/D polymorphism in this population, which is consistent with previous study (Woods et al. 2002). However, mean arterial blood pressure is considerably high in DD homozygotes as compared to either II homozygotes or ID heterozygotes. In conclusion, it is possible that perhaps the D -allele has certain genetic significance for adaptation to high altitude hypoxia in Tawang Monpa. Moreover, previous study has suggested disadvantage of I- allele among highlanders with respect to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and consequent high frequency of HAPE in II homozygotes (Aldashev et al. 2002). Nevertheless, before concluding anything substantially and to understand how D -allele is benefiting this population, more research is required in this direction among Tawang Monpa.

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Paper Title: Why Is There a Dalit Movement in Nepal and Not in Sikkim & Darjeeling Hills?
Author: Suditya Sapcotta
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, Sikkim University, India

Abstract: In a glaring incident of caste atrocity, on 6th April 2015, the police arrested Narad Mani Sharma for allegedly killing Nirmal Kami a man from the Scheduled Caste (SC) community from Martam in West Sikkim. The deceased was passing through Sharma’s house when he was attacked with a log and he died on the spot due to profuse bleeding. The villagers report that Sharma disliked people from the SC community entering his house and passing through it, he even used to purify his house and surroundings with Ganga Jal when such incidences took place.

The perpetrator of the crime was arrested, but similar atrocities are committed with frequency and impunity throughout India as a result of the entrenched practice of untouchability. Various forms of untouchability are still practiced especially in rural Sikkim as well. In social functions like marriage and death, the members of the SC community have segregated dining spaces. They are barred from entering the house of the other castes. When a SC approaches the house of the other castes, they are hastily provided with a stool or chair outside the house. Endogamy is strictly maintained particularly with the SCs. In extreme cases the bride’s family also performs kri’ya or the death ceremony of the women. These are just some blatant forms of untouchability and the Sano Jat (low caste) live under constant ‘domination’ of the Thulo Jat (higher caste). They also face surreptitious exclusionary practices in the economic and political spheres. The situation underscores the importance of that unanswered question: if caste discrimination still persists, then where is the voice of protest? Whatever might have been the circumstances in the past; very few ex-untouchables nowadays would accept themselves as impure and justify their low status on grounds of their misconduct in some previous life, a ‘fact of nature’. The ex-untouchable communities have almost everywhere become much more assertive of their human and political rights.

Similarly, in Nepal there has been a sustained Dalit movement which has been active for quite some time now and has been proactive in Dalit issues.

This paper would make a comparison between the Dalit movement in Nepal and the lack of a similar movement in Sikkim and Darjeeling hills especially among the occupational caste groups of Kami, Damai and Sarki (referred to as Hill Dalits in Nepal).

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Paper Title: Attitude, Behaviour and Knowledge on Snakes and Snakebite Management of Students in Snake Prone Area of Different Himalayan Nation (Nepal and Bhutan)
Author: Sunil Sapkota
Affiliation: B SC. Forestry, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan

Abstract: Snakes are another term for fear among people from generations in lower plains of Ganges, Chure and Lower belt of Himalayas. Though academics of the countries in the region has become more than half a century old only the geographical records and some facts about some snake species are known and some scarce number of awareness events are conducted. There is huge gap between the knowledge in the people and knowledge required for the conservation of snakes in the region and curriculum for the school level students is not designed in the way to address such issue. This study is to sensitize authorities and organizations working in area about requirement of awareness and inclusion of materials in the lower lever curriculum of studies as basic knowledge to learn. Students from Nepal and Bhutan studying in Secondary (Class 7,8,9) and Undergraduate level (B.Sc. Ag., B.Sc. Vet., B.Sc. Forestry,) were given the questionnaire to fill up for their perception, attitude and knowledge with guidance of surveyor before awareness events concentrated to improve the knowledge of people about snakes and snakebite management. Questionnaire comprised of 10 multiple choice questions and a question on identification of 12 species of commonly available snakes in Nepal and Bhutan. The identification survey was targeted to know if people can differentiate between venomous and non-venomous species based on photo. The result of study will show the lack of knowledge and thus compels authorities to take immediate action to include materials related to snakes and snakebite management for conservation and to reduce life taking snakebites.

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Paper Title: Himalayan Yak Herders: The Case of Dolpo Kchung-jhee
Author: Tashi Tsering Ghale
Affiliation: Independent Researcher

Abstract: The relevance of Kshung-jhee (Yak Herders) in Dolpo, the agro-pastoral remote Himalayan indigenous community has always remained significant. Bordering north and now within the present political geographic boundary of Nepal, the Dolpo community has faced several historical and contemporary challenges to maintain their year old tradition of Kchung-jhee. Yaks as social and economic capital has eased Dolpo to link their experiences with ecology and their neighbors including Rong (lower hills of Dolpa), Thakalis of Mustang, and Neyshyang of Manang. Variations of integrated everyday lives with yaks within the heterogeneous Dolpo community pose additional challenge to understand the phenomena in totality.

Undoubtedly, these integrated livelihoods of Dolpo and Yaks are also changing. Especially thwarted by the cultural revolution of China, the restriction of community’s Kchung-jhee and yaks in their mobility to and from Tibet’s pasturelands and their own dhrong (pasturelands) affected their lives. Their relationship with Yaks and dhrong also offers interesting avenues in terms of how indigenous communities maintain such bond especially in the present context of migration, climate change, and no political participation of Dolpo in any major government offices including District Agriculture Office, Dolpa. Nonetheless, there are not any scholars who have explored this relationship of human, nature and animal, in this case, Kchung-jhee relation with yaks and dhrong. Under such context, how do they continue to rear and maintain the bond? What are the ongoing challenges and opportunities that these Kchung-jee face? Revolving around these particular research questions, the research piece will try to understand and critically analyze how the community, such as Bharbhong and Shyang of Dolpo and their Kchung-jee continue to sustain their relationship with Yaks and nature. Based on the in-depth interviews conducted in the month of December 2016 and January 2017 both in Boudha (Kathmandu), and Bharong and Shyang (present Tsarka Tangshyong Village Body) via the life histories of Kchung-jee, the piece will show how Kchung-jee’s migration to Rong (the lower hills of Dolpa) and various pasturelands within Dolpo, and their annual trade with the Thakalis of Mustang are still helping the interrelationship of Kchung-jee, yaks and nature including pasturelands to renew.

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Paper Title: DDT, Dang, and Land Reform: “Backwards” Development in Nepal’s Western Inner Tarai in the 1960s
Author: Thomas Robertson
Affiliation: Executive Director, Fulbright Nepal

Abstract: In 1965, the government of Nepal, with support from the US and WHO, launched a malaria eradication program in western Nepal. The program was accompanied by a land reform program, which was, at least initially, pushed by the U.S. Based on archival and recent ethnographic research, this paper examines the effects of these programs, especially within the Dang Valley, one of Nepal’s largest valleys, where the outcome was especially dramatic. There, the malaria program and land reform combined with local patterns of labor exploitation in a way that spurred the out-migration of thousands of indigenous Tharus. The goal of this paper is to figure out what happened and why.

Until the 1960s, much of Nepal’s southern strip—a lowlying stretch called the tarai—was malarious. A joint U.S., WHO, and government of Nepal eradication program remade the country, but has gone understudied. Examining this history provides a rich opportunity to combine international relations history, environmental history, medical anthropology, and local history.

Despite Dang’s malaria, the area was historically populated by Tharus, who suffered from malaria but not to the extent of their highland neighbors. From at least the nineteenth century, high-caste elites from the nearby hills had acquired land in the valley and used Tharu tenants as a labor source. The landlords would come in the winter, and leave when the weather turned warmer, often carried by Tharu laborers.

The eradication of malaria and the land reform program upended this system, but the benefits were far from uniformly positive. At first, the change brought relief to the Tharu, because it meant the end of carrying their landlords and supplies to and from the hills. But eradication allowed the hill landlords to stay in Dang year-round, which increased the burden on Tharu. At the same time, the land reform program encouraged the selling off of lands, which opened the door for many more, but smaller, landlords to come from the hills. Some of these migrants displaced Tharu workers, while others took in Tharu servants.

In addition to examining these dynamics and attempting to quantify the outmigration, this paper also examines the effects of these programs on the kamaiya system of bonded-labor that was common in this area in the 1970s and 1980s and became the center of “free kamaya” social movement in the 1990s.

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Paper Title: Ingesting Instability: Opiate Addiction and Care in Urban Nepal
Author: Thomas Robert Zeller
Affiliation: MA student, Medical Anthropology, University of Hawaii, USA

Abstract: The unstable context of opiate use in urban Nepal shapes how addiction-affected individuals adapt substance use patterns and how care providers, themselves operating in variable economic circumstances, respond to these alterations. Opiate addiction is a growing issue affecting a wide array of ethnic groups and economic classes in urban Nepal. Through examining the history and present condition of shifting use preferences relative to tumultuous social and economic conditions, this paper examines how individuals survive physical dependence on substances whose availability is not guaranteed. The shift from inhaled Brown Sugar heroin to injected Bupronorphine, caused by shifting economic circumstances and resulting in an HIV outbreak in the early 2000’s, exemplifies these unstable circumstances. It also shows how addiction-affected individuals utilize new substances and forms of ingestion in response to absence. Simultaneously, providers of care for opiate addicted individuals rely on unstable sources of funding and operate under conditions of frequent staff turnover. These realities were also illuminated during the early 2000’s HIV crisis, which attracted short-term donor funding but ultimately created harm-reduction and care programs which were financially unsustainable. Using fieldwork conducted at rehabilitation facilities, this paper aims to examine how opiate addicted individuals navigate physical dependence and receive care within conditions of instability, where the availability of both illicit forms of heroin, and legal forms of opiates fluctuate. It will also address how care providers create and modify strategies of rehabilitation based on the shifting preferences of their clientele. On a national scale, this project contributes to the evolving project of understanding the extent and nature of addiction in the increasingly pharmaceuticalized Nepali context. More broadly, it adds perspective to studies of addiction and treatment that have been generally situated in the west to bring new viewpoints and understandings to the expanding global opiate crisis.

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Paper Title: Right to Privacy Vs National Security, Law and Order: A Comparative Study of Constitutional Provision of Nepal and India
Author: Vijay Jayshwal1, Roshana Parajuli2 & Ankita Tripathi2
Affiliation: 1Teaching Faculty, Kathmandu School of Law; 2BA. LLB (Ongoing), Kathmandu School of Law, Nepal

Abstract: In India Aadhaar Card- a 12 point digital number (biometric identification system) has become subject to controversy and partially welcomed and criticism from general public. A normal public poll suggests very significant percentage supporting the scheme of running government in order to justify a reasonable restriction in name of larger country security, law and order while other disfavors’ and criticize in name of Privacy clause of the constitution and direct control over free citizens. Right to privacy by nature is not absolute right for a constitutional expert and also for a law student which can invite justifiable and reasonable restrictions on it. Right to privacy is considered as one of pillar in democratic governance which keeps aspirations alive and also warns authority to confine within premises allowed by Constitutionalism of respective country. Nepal also is struggling to issue a similar digital card number for strict surveillance on citizens in order to avoid larger questions of law and order in country. The geo-political situation of Nepal is much more crucial in regards to India’s security concern and also Tibet stability as precondition for North relations. Both India and Nepal has made several joint efforts in name of country’s law and order for protecting unavoidable circumstances through not allowing right to privacy in absolute sense. The first section of research will make a comparative constitutional analysis of privacy clause of India and Nepal and strict surveillance of government.

By nature, state has an obligation to know about movement and involvement of its citizens in and out of country. A responsible state has also to refrain from interfering in ‘perceived notion of threat and feared psychology’ upon citizens in order to make them accommodated with democratic culture and rule of law. Nepal and India by Constitutional analysis shares larger similarities than differences in terms of availability of constitutional protection and provision not in terms of effectiveness of such clauses. Right to privacy is under ‘fundamental category’ which means nonviolability principles and indivisibility principle also attracts here. This section will illustrate the Supreme Court judgments and Court’s illustrations on digital card and privacy clause of Constitution of both the Nation.

The law and order is a mandatory act expected by any government and for which a public cooperation is must. Scholar support a reasonable restriction on right to privacy and also in number of UN Resolutions in respect to Privacy also share same information’s. This section will read the different Resolutions, Law, Treaties, Applications and jurisprudence of national security clause. 

Methodology: Comparative and Analytical
Key words: Privacy, Constitutionalism and Rule of Law

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Paper Title: Realities and Aspirations: Kabaddi Players in Far-West Nepal
Author: Wai-Man Tang
Affiliation: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract: The commercialization of kabaddi in India has created new opportunities for kabaddi players in Nepal. Meanwhile, many studies have shown that “afno manche” (one’s own people), which is usually associated with favoritism, as a cultural norm in Nepal has limited the opportunities for people at the marginality, including sports players. This paper discusses the aspirations and lived realities of kabaddi players in Dhangadhi, a city in far-west Nepal. Apparently, kabaddi players in this city are the typical players at the marginality. But their experience has profound implications for the changing caste- and gender-relations and definitions of modernity in Nepal. Their experience is explored by using a variety of ethnographic material collected through interviews and participant observation during two periods of fieldwork in Kailali district in the summer of 2015 and 2017. This paper focuses on the inclusiveness of kabaddi in various settings, which shed light on the meanings of tradition and modernity in Nepal.

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Paper Title: Back to Nepal: A Canadian Perspective
Author: Wayne Johnston
Affiliation: Head, Research Enterprise and Scholarly Communication, University of Guelph Library, Canada

Abstract: Wayne Johnston is engaged in explorations of what it means to return, the role of specific sites in the experience of memory, and the ways in which past and present experience can inform each other. These explorations lead him on a personal journey of return to Kathmandu for the first time since 2007. The results are captured in a creative literary project. This is supplemented by observations drawn from interviews with Nepalis currently living in Canada. In these interviews Johnston further explores the concept of “home” within the experiences of international migration. How does life in Canada transforms perspectives on Nepal? What does it mean to return to Nepal as a visitor rather than a resident? How do you make sense of changes in the loci of your memories, whether those are the inevitable changes over time or the result of cataclysmic events like the 2015 earthquake.

The findings are based largely on informal interviews conducted with Nepalis currently living in Canada. Interviewees are chosen to provide as much diversity as possible both in terms of their demographics and their experience returning to Nepal. Common themes and trends are identified. Compelling narratives are also presented verbatim. No formal conclusions are drawn. The intention is to provoke contemplation of how the process of returning to Nepal can enliven memory and transform the personal relationship with place.

Johnston’s literary project is called Ten Cities: The Past Is Present. In this endeavour he revisits ten sites in each of ten cities that have had a formative impact on his life. He explores the ways that the sensory experience of a site can enliven memories that would otherwise remain dormant, and the ways that past and present experience can engage in a dialogue with each other. Kathmandu is one of those ten cities and the focal point for the current paper. The presentation at this conference will be accompanied by a literary performance event of Johnston’s creative work in Kathmandu but not part of the conference itself.

The paper will also draw from relevant literature in the social sciences, arts and humanities as well as other creative works in a range of media dealing with memory and place.

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Paper Title: In The Name of Children’s Rights: Rethinking The Rhetoric of Schools as Zones of Peace and Prohibitions on Student Involvement in Party-­‐Based Activities in Nepal
Author: Yoko Ishikura
Affiliation: Independent Researcher

Abstract: The protection of children living in areas of armed conflicts has now become one of the prime objectives of humanitarian and development agencies across the world. Among the practices, securing children’s access to education during political violence has gained growing attention since the early 2000s. Commensurately, the action disrupting children’s access to education has come to be seen as a violation of child protection.

The effort to protect children’s right to education was introduced to Nepal during the “People’s War”, which was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) against the government in 1996. Since then, the effort, called Schools as Zones of Peace (SZOP), followed more than a decade-­‐long advocacy campaign by international organizations. Finally, the government of Nepal endorsed SZOP as a national directive in 2011. This directive aims to secure children’s rights to access education by excluding three types of activities from schools: 1) armed activities, 2) party-­‐based politics and 3) discrimination. Major provisions among them are aimed at regulating student involvement in activities and organizations affiliated with political parties. These provisions were based on the historical recognition that children’s right to access education has been consistently threatened by political parties throughout the People’s War and the surge of protests by ethnic-­‐based political parties in the post-­‐conflict period. However, there exists a body of work that brings into doubt these assumptions underlying SZOP.

Drawing on interviews with teachers at a public secondary school in Kathmandu, this article examines the validity of these assumptions by exploring how the teachers understand and practice SZOP at the school. The overall finding is that although the teachers I interviewed agreed with SZOP’s prohibition against the mobilization of the school and its closure by political parties as a means to pressure the government, they did not consider students’ affiliation with a political party, per se, as a problem. Rather, they appreciated certain community-­‐related activities run by the political party and its affiliated student organization. Thus, the teachers regulate their students’ participation in party-­‐related activities only during school hours, but not outside of school hours. The teachers rather expressed their concern that the text of SZOP can be interpreted as preventing student participation not only in party-­‐ based activities but also in all types of political activities.

These findings call for the reconsideration of SZOP’s victim image of Nepalese students in relation to “politics”. By emphasizing political party’s “misuse” of students, SZOP has a risk of silencing students’ active engagement in political activities and civic engagements that are appreciated by the people. This article also argues that application of SZOP on Madhesh political struggle needs to be sensitive.

This article begins by reviewing the context upon which SZPOP was initiated in Nepal. I then explain the rationale of SZOP and its decade-­‐long advocacy campaign. These notions will then be contested with the data from my fieldwork carried out in Kathmandu from October to November 2015. Finally, I draw out implications for policy and practice, and suggest directions for further research.

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Paper Title: The Expanding and Consolidating ‘Middle Class’ in Contemporary Nepal
Author: Youba Raj Luintel
Affiliation: Associate Professor, Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Abstract: While the ‘middle class’ elsewhere is said to be vanishing especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the concomitant ‘end of history’ (Fukuyama 1992), and the market triumphalism (for critique, see Sandel 2012), in countries like Nepal, however, the middle class is expanding and consolidating throughout. Taken in gradational sense (Weber 1922) the debate on middle class spans nearly over 100 years, and alternatively, when taken in relational sense the debate crosses over 170 years or so (Marx and Engels 1848). The debate has revived after the turn of the century.

In this paper, I plan to present a frame of analysis of the ‘middle class’ in the context of Nepali society in the riddle of unprecedented socio-political transition, 1990-2017. I argue that instead of vanishing (Temin 2017) and collapsing or disappearing (Warren 2008), the middle class in Nepal is reproducing, expanding and consolidating itself. I plan to base my arguments on an examination of income rise and corresponding decline in poverty and deprivation in Nepal over the last few decades; a critical examination of expanding connectivity, modernity and developmental practices; an analysis of shifting regimes of livelihoods and proliferation of market-based exchange relations; and finally, a broad stork analysis of the complex historical regime of Nepal’s state formation and the attendant socio-political development.

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Paper Title: Transregionalism, Hierarchy, and Belonging Dynamics in Himalayan Mountain Tourism
Author: Young Hoon Oh
Affiliation: Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Department of Religious Studies, University of California, USA

Abstract: Mountain tourism is one of the few fields Nepal earns international fame and seeks equitable prosperity. Tourism studies literature points out a number of issues Nepali citizens are facing around Himalayan mountain tourism, ranging from ethical concerns over the recent increase of fatalities vis-a-vis summits in commercial expeditions (Nepal and Mu 2017; Nyapane 2017), through state-supported essentialisms of ethnicity and culture (Bakke 2010; Sharma 2016; Sherpa 2009), to models of individual choice and exchange for alternative ways of life (Baumgartner 2015; Ortner 1999). Few studies, however, have examined patterns of internal social structure and/or processual dynamics through which international tourism is uniquely localized in Nepal as well as across the Himalayas, albeit limited examples such as the role of social engagements (Adams 1996), global impacts Nepal tourism has made (Liechty 2012), and non-touristic Thamel (Linder 2017). Moving beyond the conventional frame of tourism versus a priori individual, this paper asks the question: How have local attributes and global forces conjoined to have created the contemporary field of mountain tourism across the Himalayas?

To answer the question, this paper analyzes ethnographic data gathered from a number of field trips scattered from 2012 to 2018 working with Sherpa mountain guides, Sherpa expedition organizers, non-Sherpa Nepali tourism laborers, government representatives, non-Nepali outfitters, as well as foreign tourists. Analytic focus lies in three unique features of the mountain tourism industry in Nepal: transregionalism, hierarchical structure, belonging dynamics. First, Himalayan mountain tourism is now virtually a series of transregional endeavors as distinctively Kathmandu-centered, where international and domestic flows of tourists, staff, information, capital, equipment and other related entities pivot around the capital of Nepal. As much as Thamel is never a permanent mainstay of tourism, geopolitical contest several “hot spots” have posed against Kathmandu will be examined. Second, as an industry, the global sector of Himalayan mountain tourism has developed a complex and still evolving structure of exchange relationships, over which the Sherpa has increasingly attained governance and monopoly. Finally, the Sherpa have never been a single group, establishing peculiarly dynamic practices of belonging as their own tradition of fission and fusion. New groups of “Sherpas” have replaced those industrially successful ones who are retiring to more lucrative fields than guiding novices on mountain slopes. The enduring tension between the usages of the title “Sherpa” for ethnicity and for occupation is not merely of a ethnolinguist’s interest but a crucial juncture from which one may parse out the interplay between the local and the global in Himalayan mountain tourism.

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Paper Title: Tibetan Sources on the Political and Religious Contacts Between Tibet, Yolmo and the Kathmandu Valley in the 17-18th Century
Author: Zsóka Gelle
Affiliation: Independent Researcher

Abstract: Yolmo (Helambu) is an area that lies on the southern slopes of the main Himalayan range within Nepal, northeast of Kathmandu, mainly in Sindhupalchok district. It is often mentioned as Sbas yul Yol mo gangs ra in old Tibetan sources, the ‘Hidden Land of Yolmo Snow Enclosure’. The area is located between two old trade routes, one leading from Kyirong, the other from Nyalam to the Kathmandu valley.

There was relatively little research done in Yolmo compared to its easy access and close proximity to the Kathmandu valley, however, some great scholars like Graham E. Clarke, Robert Desjarlais and Franz-Karl Ehrhard made lasting contributions to the study of Yolmo and its unique culture and history. The Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project conducted extensive field research photographing old manuscripts in the area, still, many of the Tibetan texts have never been researched and published, although they are available on microfilm at the National Archive in Kathmandu or in a digital form on BDRC (Buddhist Digital Resource Center). Therefore, the aim of my contribution is to explore a few of these Tibetan texts, mainly biographies of Tibetan lamas, who played an important role in the 17-18th century in the religious life of Yolmo, and also acted as intermediaries between Tibet and Nepal. Two texts I will extensively quote from are biographies of the fourth Yolmowa Tulku Zilnon Wangyal Dorje (1647-1716), and Nyima Sengge (1687-1738), the founder of Tarkeghyang village.

Rigzin Zilnon Wangyal Dorje (1647-1716) in his early age was recognized as the Forth Yolmowa Tulku, the reincarnation of Tenzin Norbu, the regent of Dorje Drag Monastery, the centre of the Northern Treasure tradition in Tibet. He completed his monastic studies already at the age of eleven, and he was ordained when he turned thirteen by the 5th Dalai Lama, who gave him the name Zilnon Wangyal Dorje. He received all the teachings, transmissions and empowerments of the Northern Treasure lineage from the 5th Dalai Lama. Zilnon Wangyal Dorje not only travelled widely in Tibet, but also spent years of meditation in Yolmo Gangra and had a close contact with the kings of Gorkha and Kathmandu. His sister was given in marriage to King Pratap Malla (1641-1674). As many other Yolmowa Tulkus, he renovated and consecrated the Bodhnath stupa twice during his lifetime and he was the overseer of the temples of Yolmo Gangra.

The biography of Terbon Nyima Sengge (1687-1738), the Chariot of Certainty (Nges shes ’dren pa’i shing rta), was recorded by his son Thrinle Dudjom, the 5th Yolmowa Tulku. According to this account, Nyima Sengge was born in Mangyul, and he was active as the steward of the Jamtrin (Byams sprin) Temple in southern Tibet. He widely travelled in the Himalaya doing meditation retreats and visited the Kathmandu Valley to renovate the two great stupas, the Jarung Khashor (Bya rung kha shor) and the Swayambhu (’Phags pa shing kun). After his return to Mangyul, plague broke out in the Kathmandu valley, and King Jagajjaya Malla (1722-1734), the ruler of independent Kathmandu invited him back to perform Tantric rituals in order to stop the epidemic. After his success, he was granted land by the king in Yolmo, and this gift was documented on two copperplates.

By a close reading of these old, so far unpublished manuscripts, I hope to shed some light not only on the political and religious contacts between Tibet and Nepal, but also on the relationship between borderland and centre, the Himalayan region and the Kathmandu valley during these centuries.

[1] Monica Lohani Rani Pokhari reconstruction halted; to be restored to Malla-era design. The Himalayan Times. 28/12/2017.

[2] Dipesh Risal In the name of love: The Rani Pokhari Story 14/1/2018 Kathmandu Post

[3] Mahlmann, Heinrich [Editor]; Oriolla, … von [Editor]; Humboldt, Alexander von [Auth. o. Intro.] Zur Erinnerung an die Reise des Prinzen Waldemar von Preussen nach Indien in den Jahren 1844 – 1846 (Band 2) — Berlin, 1853

[4] Prakriti Giri. (2009). Song: Gorkhaland ko nimmti. Album: Hamro Chinha Gorkhaland Jo Pura Hunchaiyeh Huncha. Dawa Bomzon, Lyrics. Ajnish Rai, Comp., Music. Darjeeling: Gorkha Prathamik Siksha Sangathan (GPTA).

[5] Bhanu ra Pala. Part 2. (2009). (Drama). Kalimpong:  Pratibimab Natak Dalli.

[6]  Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1991).

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