Day 1: 25 July

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Day 1: 25 July (Wednesday)
SESSION 1: 9 – 10:10 am
Nirmal Man Tuladhar
Social Science Baha
Panel B1
Dynamics of Labour Migration: Discursive Structures
Chair: Nirmal Man Tuladhar
Social Science Baha
Discussant: Ang Sanu Lama
Independent Researcher
Arjun Kharel
Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal
Social Perception, Media Representation, and the Policies of Female Labour Migration in Nepal
Sanjaya Aryal
PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex
Beyond Empowerment and Exploitation: Care Chain of Transnational Migratory Nepali Women
BREAK: 10:10 – 11:10 am (refreshments will be served in the dining hall)
SESSION 2: 11:10 am – 12:50 pm                                                      
Panel A2 Panel B2
Nepal’s Complex and Contested ‘Transition’: Discussion from the Margins
(Convener: Sangita Thebe Limbu)
Chair & Discussant: Sohan Prasad Sha
Martin Chautari
Ethnographies of Infrastructure: Roads, State Building and Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts
(Convener: Elsie Lewison)
Chair: Dinesh Paudel
Appalachian State University
Discussant: Sara Shneiderman
University of British Columbia
Sujeet Karn
Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari
Political Mobilisation and Borderland Brokers in Nepal’s Tarai
Lagan Rai
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Post Graduate College, Biratnagar (Tribhuvan University)
Sangita Thebe Limbu
Research Fellow, Martin Chautari
Post War Reconstruction, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Everyday Life: Case Study of Bardiya
Shyam B. Kunwar
MPhil  Candidate,
Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
The Politics of the Road: Ethnography of Charikot-Singati-Lamabager Road of Dolakha, Central Nepal
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
Katharine Rankin
Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada
Pushpa Hamal
PhD Candidate,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
Elsie Lewison
PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
Tulasi Sharan Sigdel
Director of Studies, Nepal Administrative Staff College, Nepal
Corruption, road building and the politics of social science research in post-conflict Nepal
LUNCH: 12:50 – 1:45 pm (served in the dining hall)
SESSION 3: 1:45 – 3:25 pm
Panel A3
Panel B3
Kathmandu as a (R)evolving Culture Place
Chair: Dyuti Baral
Social Science Baha
Discussant: Chiara Letizia
Université du Québec à Montréal
Voices from Himalayan Expeditions and Explorations
Chair: Kathryn Ruth Stam
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Discussant: Stefanie Lotter
University of London
Frederic Moronval
Research Laboratory Dylis, Normandy University, Rouen, France
Vitality of language and religion among the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley Young Hoon Oh
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Department of Religious Studies, University of California
Transregionalism, Hierarchy, and Belonging Dynamics in Himalayan Mountain Tourism
Zsóka Gelle
Independent Researcher
Tibetan Sources on the Political and Religious Contacts Between Tibet, Yolmo and the Kathmandu Valley in the 17-18th Century Shuv Raj Rana Bhat
PhD Candidate, Department of English, The University of Texas at El Paso
Construction of Whiteness in Jamaica Kincaid’s Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya
Dipti Sherchan
Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois – Chicago
Shifting Imaginations: Contemporary Arts Education and Practices in Nepal
BREAK: 3:25 – 3:55 pm (refreshments will be served in the dining hall)
SESSION 4: 3:55 – 6 pm
Panel A4 Panel B4
Legal Instruments: Limitations and Exclusions

Chair: Thomas B. Robertson
Fulbright Commission – Nepal
Discussant: Mark Turin
University of British Columbia

Imagining a Nation: Words and Pictures

Chair: Michael Hutt
University of London
Discussant: Seira Tamang
Independent Researcher

Ojaswi KC &
Roshani Regmi
BA in Law, Kathmandu School of Law, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Legislation and Legitimization of Gender Discriminatory Practices Andrea de la Rubia Gomez-Moran
History of Art, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Contemporary Art of Nepal, Picturing a Nation, Performing an Identity
Rajya Laxmi Gurung
MPhil Candidate in Sociology, Tribhuvan University
‘Pothi Bashio’: Security of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) in Nepal Avash Bhandari
Graduate Student in History, University of Illinois, Chicago
Dibya Upadesh and the Making of a Nationalist Gospel
Chiara Letizia
Professor, South Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
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
Katsuo Nawa
Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan
Ambivalence Denied or Unrecognized? A Preliminary Study on Some Governmental Brochures in the Early Panchayat Period
Vijay Jayshwal
Teaching Faculty, Kathmandu School of Law
Roshana Parajuli & 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
Lok Ranjan Parajuli
Senior Researcher, Martin Chautari, Nepal
Power Play: An Intricate Story of the Founding of Nepal’s First University


Panel B1: Dynamics of Labour Migration: Discursive Structures
Chair: Nirmal Man Tuladhar, Chair, Social Science Baha
Discussant: Ang Sanu Lama, Independent Researcher

Paper 1: Social Perception, Media Representation, and the Policies of Female Labour 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 2: Beyond Empowerment and Exploitation: Care Chain of Transnational Migratory Nepali Women
Author: Sanjaya Aryal
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Essex

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 fulfil 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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Panel A2: Nepal’s Complex and Contested ‘Transition’: Discussion from the Margins
Panel Convener: Sangita Thebe Limbu, Research Fellow, Martin Chautari
Chair & Discussant: Sohan Prasad Sha, Researcher, 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: 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 2: Post War Reconstruction, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Everyday Life: Case Study of Bardiya
Author: Sangita Thebe Limbu
Affiliation: Research Fellow, Martin Chautari

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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Paper 3: 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, The 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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Panel B2: Ethnographies of Infrastructure: Roads, State Building and Everyday Practice in Nepal’s Agrarian Districts
Panel Convener: 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, Associate Professor in 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)

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 B. Kunwar
Affiliation: MPhil Candidate, Central Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

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 Rankin 1; Pushpa Hamal2; Elsie Lewison3 and Tulasi Sharan Sigdel4
Affiliation: 1Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Canada; 2PhD Candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto; 3PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto and 4Director of Studies, Nepal Administrative Staff College, Nepal.

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 A3: Kathmandu as a (R)evolving Culture Place
Chair: Dyuti Baral, Social Science Baha
Discussant: Chiara Letizia, 
Professor, South Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Paper 1: 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 2: 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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Paper 3: Shifting Imaginations: Contemporary Arts Education and Practices in Nepal
Author: Dipti Sherchan
Affiliation: Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois – Chicago

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 2: 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

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 3: Construction of Whiteness in Jamaica Kincaid’s Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya
Author: Shuv Raj Rana Bhat
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of English, The University of Texas at El Paso

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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Panel A4: Legal Instruments: Limitations and Exclusions
Chair: Thomas B. Robertson, Executive Director, Fulbright Commission – Nepal
Discussant: Mark Turin,
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada

Paper 1: Legislation and Legitimization of Gender Discriminatory Practices
Author: Ojaswi KC1 and Roshani Regmi1
Affiliation: 1Kathmandu 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 2: ‘Pothi Bashio’: Security of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) in Nepal
Author: Rajya Laxmi Gurung
Affiliation: MPhil Candidate in Sociology, Tribhuvan University

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 3: 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, 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 4: Right to Privacy vs National Security, Law and Order: A Comparative Study of Constitutional Provision of Nepal and India
Author: Vijay Jayshwal 1; Roshana Parajuli2 and Ankita Tripathi2
Affiliation: 1Teaching Faculty, Kathmandu School of Law; 2Kathmandu 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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Panel B4: Imagining a Nation: Words and Pictures
Chair: Michael Hutt, Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, SOAS, University of London
Discussant: Seira Tamang,
 Independent Researcher

Paper 1: 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:

  1. 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 2: Dibya Upadesh and the Making of a Nationalist Gospel
Author: Avash Bhandari
Affiliation: Graduate Student in 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 3: 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 4: 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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