Indigeneity, Territoriality and the State in Nepal: New Perspectives, Emerging Practices
In the last decade, indigenous peoples’ claims of territoriality and political autonomy have become one of the most contested political agendas in Nepal. Indigenous peoples’ movements for federalism based on ethnic identity, territory and history have heightened a distinct sense of “geographical imagination” (Harvey, 2005) among indigenous communities. At the community level, people’s sense of place, their locally embedded practices of place-making such as rituals and place-names, and peoples’ understanding of their historical relationships with their territories have acquired new meanings and political significance. In this panel, we will draw on historical and ethnographic analysis to discuss the emerging practices of territoriality and indigeneity, particularly in the contexts of the post-April 2006 political transformations towards inclusive democracy and federal restructuring of the nation-state. We bring ethnographic cases from the hill as well as the Tarai indigenous communities to discuss the interface between history, politics, place/territory/land, and people’s everyday practices in understanding the changing state-indigenous relations in the making of ‘New Nepal’. Individual papers will address the politics of naming and identity, the mutuality of gender and land in indigenous activism, and the politics of place making practices in the Tarai.