Day 2: 26 July (Thursday)
SESSION 5: 9 – 10:40 am
Chair: Sara Shneiderman
University of British Columbia
Discussant: Bandita Sijapati
(Convener: Michael Hutt)
Chair: Jeevan Baniya
Social Science Baha
Discussants: Govinda Raj Bhattarai
Specialist in Heritage & Conservation
Tri Ratna Manandhar
Kathryn Ruth Stam
Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica, New York
Professor of Nepali and Himalayan Studies, SOAS, University of London
PhD Candidate, Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada
Professor, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada
Teaching Fellow, South Asia Department, University of London
Head, Research Enterprise and Scholarly Communication, University of Guelph Library, Canada
Honorary Research Associate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
BREAK: 10:40 – 11:10 am
SESSION 6: 11:10 am – 12:50 pm
Understanding the Prevalence and Persistence of Domestic Violence
Chair: Sambriddhi Kharel
Social Science Baha
Discussant: Feyzi Ismail
SOAS, University of London
Pluralism and Liberalism in Sikkim and Darjeeling
Chair: John Whelpton
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Discussant: Dan V. Hirslund
University of Copenhagen
Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal
Programme Implementation Manager, Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Nepal
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Presidency University, Kolkata
Ramesh Prasad Adhikari
Research Manager, Hellen Keller International, Nepal
M&E and Knowledge Management Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal
Nutrition and FP Specialist, Suaahara II/USAID, Nepal
Senior Technical Advisor, Suaahara II/USAID
PhD Candidate, Department of International Relations, Sikkim University, India
Claire Willey Sthapit
PhD Candidate, University of Washington
LUNCH BREAK: 12:50 – 1:45 pm
SESSION 7: 1:45 – 3:25 pm
Rituals and Practices: Communication through Worship
Chair: Katsuo Nawa
University of Tokyo
Discussant: Zsóka Gelle
(Convener: Victoria Dalzell)
Chair: Rajendra Pradhan
Social Science Baha
MPhil Candidate, Sociology, Sikkim University, India
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal
MPhil Candidate, Sikkim University, India
Swati Akshay Sachdeva
Associate Professor, Sikkim University, India
Independent Scholar (adjunct teaching faculty at multiple colleges and universities in Southern California, USA)
School of Behavioral Sciences, Peres Academic Center, Israel
PhD Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
BREAK: 3:25 – 3:55 pm
SESSION 8: 3:55 – 5:35 pm
Body and Mind: Care and Repair
Chair: Omer Aijazi
University of British Columbia
Discussant: Wai-Man Tang
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Traditional Knowledge: Mechanisms and Practice
Chair: Nirmal Man Tuladhari
Social Science Baha
Discussant: Nabin Rawal
BSc. Forestry, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan
Junior Research Fellow, PhD Student
Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Meghalaya, India
Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Michigan,
Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, New York
Junior Associate, Unity Law Firm & Consultancy, Nepal
|Thomas Robert Zeller
MA student, Medical Anthropology, University of Hawaii
|Ingesting Instability: Opiate Addiction and Care in Urban Nepal||Tashi Tsering Ghale
|Himalayan Yak Herders: The Case of Dolpo Kchung-jhee|
BREAK: 5:35 – 6 pm
6 pm onwards
Collaborative Research Projects in the Wake of the 2015 Earthquakes
A Panel Presentation and Discussion
Several international scholarly collaborations are currently focusing on Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes and their aftermath, from a range of disciplinary and methodological approaches. Their concerns include the dynamics of relief, recovery and reconstruction and the cultural, sociological and political impacts of both recent and historical earthquakes.
This roundtable will bring together participants from three such projects to share information about their lines of inquiry. Projects represented include ‘After the Earth’s Violent Sway’ (based at SOAS, London with funding from the UK’s AHRC/Global Challenges Research Fund), ‘Expertise, Labour and Mobility in Nepal’s Post-Conflict Post-Disaster Reconstruction’ (based at University of British Columbia, Canada, with funding from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council) and ‘Resilience Capacity of the Community’, which is part of ‘A Study on State of Social Inclusion in Nepal’ (based at the Department of Anthropology at Tribhuvan University, with funding from USAID).
Mukta Singh Lama, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Sara Shneiderman, University of British Columbia, Canada
Michael Hutt, SOAS, University of London
Jeevan Baniya, Social Science Baha
Panel A5: Nepali Diaspora: Belonging and Longings
Chair: Sara Shneiderman, Associate Professor in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Discussants: Bandita Sijapati, Researcher
Paper 1: 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).
Paper 2: Nepalese Canadian Youth Civic Engagement: Young Nepalese Canadians Experiences In High School
Author: Nabin Maharjan 1 and Thomas O’Neill 2
Affiliation: 1PhD Candidate, Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, Canada; 2Professor, Department of 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 http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/curricul/secondary/oss/oss.pdf
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 http://sectorsource.ca/sites/default/files/resources/files/WLU_MandatoryVolunteering_Feb07_2007.pdf
Paper 3: 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.
Panel B5: 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
Chair: Jeevan Baniya, Assistant Director, Social Science Baha
Discussants: Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Professor of English, Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University;
Anie Joshi, Architect and Specialist in Heritage & Conservation;
Tri Ratna Manandhar, Professor Emeritus of History, Tribhuvan University
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.
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
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.
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
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’.Dipesh Risal on the other hand conjured up an imagined past in his fictionalised account of the creation of Rani Pokari while for others the drawing of Prince Waldemar of Prussia 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.
Paper 3: Juddha Shamsher and the 1934 Earthquake
Author: John Whelpton
Affiliation: Honorary Research Associate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
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
Panel A6: Understanding the Prevalence and Persistence of Domestic Violence
Chair: Sambriddhi Kharel, Executive Committee Member, Social Science Baha
Discussants: Feyzi Ismail, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS, University of London
Paper 1: A Study on the Prevalence of Physical and Sexual Violence Against Returned Women Migrant Workers in Nepal
Author: Arjun Kharel 1 and Ratna Shrestha 2
Affiliation: 1Researcher, Social Science Baha, Nepal and 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
Paper 2: Domestic Violence and Maternal Nutritional Status in Nepal: Findings from NDHS, 2016
Author: Ramesh Prasad Adhikari 1, Subash Yogi 2, Ajay Acharya 3 and Kenda Cunningham 4
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 4Senior 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
Paper 3: 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
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.
Panel B7: Healing, Ritual and Belonging: Explorations of Christianity in Nepal
Chair: Rajendra Pradhan, Executive Committee Member, Social Science Baha
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.
Paper 1: Continuity and Rupture: A Catholic Perspective on Christian Conversion in Nepal
Author: Guillaume Boucher
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal University of Oxford
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.
Paper 2: ‘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
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.
Paper 3: Social Injustice and Emerging Subaltern Religiosity Nepal
Author: Amar BK
Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
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.
Panel A7: Rituals and Practices: Communication through Worship
Chair: Katsuo Nawa, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan
Discussant: Zsoka Gelle, Independent Researcher
Paper 1: Dewali through Sociological Lens: A Study of Ancestor Worship amongst the Khadkas of Nepal
Author: Rachana 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.
Paper 2: The Other World Connection: A Study of the ‘Thread Cross’ Ceremony in Sikkim
Author: Neha Sharma1 and Swati Akshay Sachdeva2
Affiliation: 1MPhil 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.
Paper 3: 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.
Panel B6: Pluralism and Liberalism in Sikkim and Darjeeling
Chair: John Whelpton, Honorary Research Associate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Discussant: Dan V. Hirslund, Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Paper 1: 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
Paper 2: 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.
Panel A8: Body and Mind: Care and Repair
Chair: Omer Aijazi, Sessional Instructor & PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia
Discussant: Wai-Man Tang, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Paper 1: 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: BSc. 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.
Paper 2: Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Genotypes in Relation to High Altitude Hypoxia Among the Tawang Monpa from Himalayan Mountains
Author: Sudipta Ghosh 1, Abigail Bigham 2 and Tom Brutsaert 3
Affiliation: 1Department of Anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University, Meghalaya, India; 2Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Michigan and 3Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, New York
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.
Paper 3: Ingesting Instability: Opiate Addiction and Care in Urban Nepal
Author: Thomas Robert Zeller
Affiliation: MA student, Medical Anthropology, University of Hawaii
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.
Panel B8: Traditional Knowledge: Mechanisms and Practice
Chair: Nirmal Man Tuladhar, Chair, Social Science Baha
Discussant: Nabin Rawal, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University
Paper 1: Heritage Restoration and Traditional Community Governance in Kathmandu Valley
Author: Shobhit Shakya
Affiliation: Junior Research Fellow, PhD Student, Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Abstract: The 2015 Gorkha earthquake and its aftermath underlined the inadequacies within the Nepali governance system. Problems are evident with the post-earthquake restoration process still not gaining any significant success and many historical structures within the world heritage sites of Kathmandu valley still awaiting restoration. However, there has been some respite in the form of community initiatives towards the restoration of some heritage structures. These community initiatives are examples of well-working, grassroots mechanisms of governance that have arisen through deep-rooted influences from local traditions and culture. An important influence comes from the guthi system, the traditional practice of cooperative governance that was the hallmark of the specific Newari governance tradition. This may be an extremely interesting example of how traditional Non-Western forms of governance can be efficient and effective. The availability of better means of coordination and information dissemination through ICT has rejuvenated traditional practices in community cooperation. To understand how these community efforts are 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. Restoration of Maitripur Mahavihar and Ashok Chaitya in Thamel started through community initiatives. And, there have been attempts from the community to initiate the reconstruction of the Kasthamandap. These cases, along with others, provide for a promising research program.
Paper 2: 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.
Paper 3: 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.